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SPOKANE, Wash. – The American Exploration & Mining Association’s executive director, Laura Skaer, is retiring March 31 after 22 years on the job.

“Laura is renowned within the mining community for her passion, knowledge and countless contributions to the industry that have established her among the most respected advocates for mining in the nation,” said AEMA President Bob Comer.

Skaer has been the executive director of the association, which was earlier called the Northwest Mining Association, since December 1996. She oversaw the name change, as well as the decision to begin holding annual meetings in Reno every other year.

The name was changed in 2013 to better reflect its national role as the voice of the exploration and junior mining sectors in the United States, according to the retirement announcement from the association’s Spokane headquarters.

The annual meeting, which is Dec. 2-7 in Spokane this year, traditionally was held in Spokane each year until membership growth in Nevada outweighed that in the northeastern United States. The first convention in Reno boosted attendance.

The convention this year, which starts with short courses and advances to the main event on Dec. 5, will have 240 booths at the exhibition and feature Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as a guest speaker.

The Nov. 15 announcement about Skaer states that under her leadership the association has grown into the largest membership-based trade organization for the mining industry in this country. The current membership is roughly 2,000.

She said serving as executive director of the association “has been the most rewarding and personally satisfying part of my 44-year professional career since I graduated from law school. Mining is the greatest industry on the planet, and AEMA members are the best of the best.”

Skaer will work with her successor before leaving on March 31. The successor will start at the association in January, but his name hasn’t yet been announced.

An interview with Skaer will appear in the winter Mining Quarterly coming out Dec. 6.

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