Australia’s mining and exploration industry gathered to celebrate the end of a tumultuous year and recognise the work of their peers at The Association of Mining & Exploration Companies’ (AMEC) End of Year Gala Dinner. Among the 190 guests were dignitaries including the Japanese Consul-General Mr Torao Sato, WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore, Tom Kenyon MP representing the SA Minister for Mineral Resources Development Paul Holloway and Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, who delivered a frank key-note speech on Australia’s resources sector.In his address Minister Ferguson acknowledged the challenges facing the sector, re-asserted his Government’s election promise to implement a Flow-Through-Shares scheme and congratulated the WA Government for overturning the previous administration’s ban on uranium mining.The Minister also presented the prestigious AMEC 2008 Teck Prospector of the Year Award to David Brunt, Geoffrey McConachy and Andrea Marsland Smith for their work in discovering the Four Mile uranium deposit located 550 km north of Adelaide, South Australia. AMEC Chief Executive Officer Simon Bennison said the award recognised a special mix of technical and scientific excellence, innovation, persistence and outstanding leadership.“The combination of personal and technical qualities recognised by the Prospector of the Year Award is indicative of the very essence of a successful exploration team,” Bennison said. “Exploring Australia for mineral deposits requires solid science, gut instinct and no end of personal determination. It is not well understood by the general public that explorers make many personal sacrifices and expose themselves to significant risk in order to uncover a viable find.“As well as rewarding individual excellence, the AMEC Teck Prospector of the Year Award highlights the critical importance exploration plays in Australia’s long term social and economic well-being. Exploration is the first step in a long process that eventually delivers thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of royalties to the whole Australian community. Without exploration today, the tax burden for future generations will most certainly increase.“AMEC congratulates the winners of the AMEC 2008 TECK Prospector of the Year Award and all those involved in exploring for a better future,” Bennison said.