Vancouver, B.C.  —  December 3, 2019 — The Association for Mineral Exploration (“AME”) is proud to announce its 2019 Celebration of Excellence Award recipients. Leaders will be recognized for their significant efforts and contribution to the industry at the renowned AME Awards Gala on January 22 during AME’s Mineral Exploration Roundup 2020 conference in Vancouver.

Commenting on the Award Winners success, Rob McLeod, Chair of the AME Board of Directors, said:

On behalf of the Board of Directors of AME, we congratulate all of this year’s recipients.  From exploration to finance, safety to sustainability, our members continue to make positive contributions to mineral exploration and mine development around the world. Also, I would like to particularly acknowledge AME Awards Committee Chair, Ed Balon, who is part of exciting discoveries such as Westhaven’s Shovelnose epithermal gold veins but has been a dedicated, long-time volunteer for AME.

This year’s award winners are:

Peter Fischl, P.Geo. of Westhaven Ventures Inc., is the recipient of the 2019 H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award for significant contributions to enhancing the mineral resources of BC and/or Yukon Territory. Peter is being recognized particularly for his instrumental role in the recent discovery and ongoing definition of the South Zone high-grade epithermal gold-silver deposit at Westhaven’s Shovelnose Project in the newly emergent Spences Bridge Gold Belt (SBGB) of southern BC.

Steve Todoruk is the recipient of the 2019 Murray Pezim Award for his perseverance and commitment to financing high quality early stage exploration projects that have led to numerous significant metal discoveries. Steve has participated in/or arranged financings that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars that has allowed many exploration companies to advance their projects to the next phase.

Dr. Moira Smith is the recipient of the 2019 Colin Spence Award for her development of a new geological model for the Long Canyon prospect in Nevada and the resulting definition of a multi-million-ounce gold resource there. The value of this work was realized when Fronteer Gold Inc., whose main asset was the Long Canyon deposit, was purchased for $2.3 billion in 2011 by Newmont Mining Corporation, which subsequently constructed a 100,000-150,000 ounce/year gold mine at Long Canyon.

Chief John French, Chief Donny Van Somer, Dennis Izony and Chris Rockingham are the 2019 recipients of the Robert R. Hedley Award for Excellence in Social and Environmental Responsibility. Their collective dedication to further the Kemess Underground mine has set the standard for achieving mutual benefits through understanding, respect and trust. In many practical ways, these nominees are exemplars to others on how to work constructively together and create a pathway to potential shared prosperity associated with responsible mineral exploration and development in British Columbia.

Diamonds in the Rough Emergency Rescue Organization Inc. is the recipient of the 2019 David Barr Award for providing an invaluable emergency response resource to Canada’s mineral exploration industry. The Diamonds in the Rough team is composed of women in various roles in the industry including mineral exploration and development, mineral production, safety suppliers and government. The organization has been dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in the mineral exploration and mining industry.

Ed Balon is the recipient of the 2019 Gold Pan Award for his significant and selfless contributions as a volunteer to AME. Ed is known throughout the industry as an accomplished prospector, having previously received AME’s H. H. “Spud” Huestis Award in 2005 for discoveries that he has made in BC and Yukon. He has been a key contributor to AME’s successes for nearly twenty years, having served on the Association’s Geoscience Consultative Group and on the Awards Committee for over 12 years.

Jim Oliver and Anne Thompson are the recipients of the Frank Woodside Award for distinguished service to AME and/or the mineral exploration industry. For nearly 40 years, Jim has helped companies advance mineral projects in BC and around the world through his extraordinary ability to meld academic understanding with exploration instinct. A prolific author and an exceptional presenter, Jim has applied his vast experience as a consummate field geologist in many ways that has benefited the mineral exploration industry. With over 35 years of industry experience, Anne is a leading expert in alteration mineralogy and analysis for mineral exploration. She was responsible for spearheading the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the Society of Economic Geologists, volunteers as a mentor and is a vocal supporter for the inclusion of women in the industry. Anne organizes and speaks at events that are focused on educating and empowering young people, particularly women, to succeed in mineral exploration, mining and academia.

The two recipients of AME’s Outreach Education Fund are MineralsEd to support delivery of the Kids & Rocks Classroom Workshop in 2020 and Britannia Mine Museum to support the 2020 continuation of its well-established Education Program.

The Highway 37 Electrification Coalition is the recipient of a 2019 Special Tribute Award for their contribution to British Columbia. Their leadership and advocacy, over a six-year period, directly led to the creation of the $775 million, 344 kilometre Northwest Transmission Line and an additional 95 kilometre extension to Tatogga, just south of the village of Iskut.

Julia Lane is a recipient of a 2019 Special Tribute Award for being an exceptional geologist, widely admired not only for her geological abilities but also for her ability to manage large and logistically difficult exploration projects in remote areas of Canada’s Yukon Territory. Julia tragically passed away at the age of 33 on August 6th, 2019 in an aircraft accident during a routine flight from the field. Julia became a partner in Archer, Cathro & Associates (1981) Limited in 2012 and was appointed ATAC’s Vice President of Exploration in 2015. She was an active volunteer with AME.

The Julia Lane Foundation was created to continue her passion to encourage young professionals. Its primary intent is to assist and encourage future generations to pursue advanced education in the sciences. To donate and for more information click here.

For tickets to the AME Awards Gala and more information about AME Roundup, go to

View the full Award Citations and Backgrounder.