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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will speak at the American Exploration & Mining Association’s 124th Annual Meeting Dec. 2-7 in Spokane, Wash.

The event will also feature exhibits and technical sessions, several chaired by Nevada people.

Zinke will talk at the Industry Outlook Luncheon on Dec. 6 at the Spokane Convention Center, a day after the Welcoming Luncheon’s speaker is Arshad Sayed, chief development officer for partnerships and joint ventures in copper and diamonds for mining giant Rio Tinto.

“Zinke will talk about what has been accomplished so far and his plans,” AEMA Executive Director Laura Skaer said. “We will ask him to talk about the critical minerals order.”

Zinke, a Montana native, former congressman and former Navy SEAL, released the list of 35 critical minerals earlier this year through the U.S. Department of Interior as part of President Donald Trump’s executive order to break this country’s dependence on foreign minerals.

The U.S. Geological Survey compiled the list that includes rare minerals used in batteries and electronics. Next, the U.S. Commerce Department is releasing a final report on how the nation can achieve this goal.

Skaer said the association will be looking for Sayed’s perspective on the mining industry. He joined Rio Tinto in June, coming from Global Connect, a corporate advisory firm supporting growth of Asia-based companies in the United States. He was a managing partner of Global Connect.

The AEMA’s annual meeting begins Dec. 2 with short courses, and there will be a field trip to Silver Valley on Dec. 3. There also will be a bus tour to Silver Valley on Dec. 4, Core Shack set-up, the association’s board meeting and an awards and recognition reception.

The main events begin on Dec. 5, when the opening of the technical sessions, the exhibit hall and a welcoming reception. The schedule for Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 includes the exhibitions, technical sessions and a Young Professional Networking Reception on Dec. 6.

The exhibition has 240 booth spaces, and Skaer said in late October that a few booth spaces were still available.

Nevada Minerals Division Administrator Rich Perry is chairing the technical sessions for state and Canadian province reports on mineral deposits, geology and exploration. Ron Parratt, executive chairman of Renaissance Gold Inc. of Reno and Bob Felder, president and CEO of Renaissance will be chairing on session on “Growth Companies – Has Growth Replaced Survival?”

Also, among the technical sessions, Zach Spencer, manager of external relations for Comstock Mining out of Virginia City, and Matt Johnson, external affairs for Lundin Mining, a company from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, will chair one on “What’s Your Engagement and Sustainability Story? And Does It Add Value to Your Company and Community?”

Debra Struhsacker, an environmental and government relations consultant from Reno, will chair an update on public lands, and E.L. “Buster” Hunsaker, a consulting geologist from Elko, and Molly Hunsaker, owner of Hunsaker Inc., will chair a session on “Large Left Lateral Leaps to Geologic.”

A technical session on mining hydrology will be chaired by Mike Hardy, senior project manager for Lumos & Associates of Reno, and Ronald Parratt Jr., an environmental specialist with Newmont Mining Corp. Nick Rauh of Agru America Inc. of Fernley will chair a session on mine closure and reclamation.

Another speaker from Renaissance Gold, Greg Hill, will chair the “Curt Everson Great Basin Exploration” session.

Those are the sessions chaired by Nevada people, but there are more sessions of interest, including on critical minerals, lithium, metallurgical problems, land and legal issues for miners, new mining in old districts, royalties and stream financing, the National Historic Preservation Act, funding and accessing capital for mining and exploration.

Skaer will chair a session on legislative and regulatory affairs on the final day.

Early registration for the convention ends Nov. 18, but registration will be taken at the door, Skaer said. Those interested in becoming exhibitors can contact Mike Heywood at 509-624-1158, extension 110. His email is mheywood@miningamerica.org.

Details on registration for the convention are available on the association’s website at www.MiningAmerica.org.

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