Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has made history, becoming the first woman to take out the GJ Stokes Memorial Award at Kalgoorlie’s Diggers and Dealers mining forum.
Named after late forum founder Geoffrey Stokes, the award is given to someone who has made an exceptional lifetime contribution to the Australian mining industry.
And the Hancock Prospecting owner is as big as it gets in the WA resources sector, having been a top tip for the award for years before her crowning at Wednesday night’s gala dinner at the Goldfields Arts Centre.
Event overcomes challenges
The award wound up another popular Diggers and Dealers forum which was moved from August to October owing to COVID-19 restrictions. The border restrictions also resulted in the annual event being solely attended by those from Western Australia.
Now boasting an estimated $21.2 billion fortune, Mrs Rinehart was born in Perth but spent a considerable amount of time as a young woman at her parents’ sheep and cattle stations in the Pilbara.
She took over the chair at her father Lang Hancock’s company in 1992 following his death, subsequently forming a plan to turn the financially struggling exploration vehicle around.
Mrs Rinehart organised a state agreement to secure the Hope Downs tenements in the Pilbara, forming a joint venture with mining giant Rio Tinto in 2005 that took the project into production within two years.
She is now the primary owner of the privately-owned Roy Hill mine, a 55 million tonnes per annum operation in the Pilbara that employs more than 2,000 people.
Her selection was the sole win for the iron ore sector in a year dominated by the excitement generated by record gold prices and booming Australian gold production.
Dealer of the Year
There were few prizes for guessing the Dealer of the Year award, with Raleigh Finlayson’s Saracen Mineral Holdings and Bill Beament’s Northern Star Resources sharing the prize for their purchase of Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit gold mine.
Having brought the mine back to Australian hands for the first time in almost 20 years, the joint venture owners have been the talk of the conference since inking a $16 billion mega-merger last week that will place the Golden Mile into one company’s hands for the first time in its 127-year history.
Digger of the Year
ASX-listed mid-tier producer Ramelius Resources was Digger of the Year after delivering a 420% increase in net profit across its Edna May, Mt Magnet and Vivien gold mines in Western Australia.
Ramelius beat the top end of its guidance by 24% in the June quarter en route to record financial year production of more than 230,000 ounces of gold.
De Grey recognised
Pilbara gold explorer De Grey Mining won the best emerging company award. Its shares have soared from 5 cents to $1.34 this year on the back of its Hemi discovery in the Pilbara, catapulting its market capitalisation to $1.7 billion.
Globetrotting trade media editor Dominic Piper broke commercial media’s recent hold on the media award, with the Australia’s Paydirt and Gold Mining Journal editor from the Paydirt Media stable securing the prize.
Mr Piper was honoured for his 15 years at the Perth-based imprint. During this time, he has travelled throughout Australia, Asia and Africa covering mining and exploration projects across the world.
WA School of Mines mining engineering student Georgia Kerr won the Ray Finlayson Award for Leadership and Academic Excellence.