Profiles of Resourceful Women
Share in the inspirational stories of our resourceful women
Women can be found in all areas of Queensland’s resources sector, from truck drivers, to trades people, environmental specialists, engineers and mine management.
Janette began her career in 1995 after graduating with an arts/law degree, specialising in advising mining and energy clients.
She later joined Peabody and led internal legal and sustainable development teams before taking up her current role, which controls hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending on services for the company’s operations.
‘When I graduated from school, there is no way I thought that in my early 40s I would be working in senior management in the mining industry and having the chance to reinvent myself every few years.
‘I have learnt during my 20-year career it is important to not close doors or assume that you will always work in the same field.’ Janette has three children and credits her ability to rise through the ranks to supportive employers and family.
Janette was awarded the Exception Woman in Queensland Resources Award in the 2015 QRC/WIMARQ Resources Awards for Women.
Jacqui was the first female appointed as an asset president by BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal (BMC). Since taking up the position, the proportion of women in non-traditional roles at BMC has increased to 33 percent and female representation in the company’s executive leadership team is now 57 percent.
‘For too long we have allowed our industry to be male dominated, effectively shutting the door on income equality in our regional areas.
‘It is my belief that achieving a gender balance in our organisations that reflects our broader community will foster workplaces that truly allow all individuals to prosper and organisations and communities to flourish.
Women deserve the right to benefit from the rewarding well paid roles in our industry and this would go a long way to delivering economic independence that is missing from the our society today.’
To ensure that this progress is not just fleeting Jacqui has embedded diversity initiatives into business practice within BMC and more broadly within BHP Billiton.
Jacqui has a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science (Extractive Metallurgy).
She was awarded Gender Diversity Champion in the 2015 QRC/WIMARQ Resources Awards for Women.
Sandy is Project Lead West Dam – Hail Creek Mine for Rio Tinto Coal Australia.
She balanced a full time job while studying a Bachelor of Engineering Technology at the University of Southern Queensland.
After staring her career as a designer with Main Roads, a personal challenge and desire for change saw her join Rio Tinto Coal Australia just over four years ago.
She moved quickly from a technical role in the corporate office to numerous operational roles. Sandy is currently leading site civil infrastructure projects and is the only female project manager.
She is also the first female at Hail Creek to do this role. Her leadership of the project team has seen their work nominated for Rio Tinto’s internal ‘Making a Difference’ award recognising excellence, innovation and outstanding leadership in the business.
Sandy was awarded Exceptional Young Woman in Queensland Resources in the 2015 QRC/WIMARQ Resources Awards for Women.
Julie is Crew Leader for Rio Tinto Alcan’s East Weipa mine operations.
Julie began driving haul trucks in 1998 at a time when very few women sat behind the wheel of these behemoths and has been leading a crew of 30 mine operators for the past three years.
She says she knew from the first time she saw the haul trucks, when she moved to Weipa almost 30 years ago, that one day she would drive them.
Julie is the only female operational crew leader amongst a group of 25, and has contributed to the acceptance of women in what was seen as a traditionally ‘male’ role.
She has supported other women, and particularly indigenous employees within her crew, who have joined the crews through Rio Tinto Alcan’s traineeship program.
Outside of her normal duties, Julie often attends the trainees’ education/training days to provide additional support.
Julie was awarded utstanding Queensland Tradeswoman/Operator/Technician in the 2015 QRC/WIMARQ Resources Awards for Women.
With more than 25 years in the civil and mining sectors, Laura has amassed an incredible range of experience on a path to becoming one of the top executives in her field.
She is a leader in the mining industry with experience across multiple disciplines including operational and technical leadership, project management, environmental compliance, and community and corporate affairs.
Originally from the UK, Laura gained degrees in Geology and Mining Engineering and commenced her career in civil engineering in the late 1980s.
In 1994 Laura emigrated to Australia and began her career in mining starting as the UG ‘beat’ geologist at Mount Isa Mines and later rising through supervisory, analyst and later management roles with BHP Billiton.
She has expertly led teams by bringing out their best while reinforcing the importance of individuality and difference.
A passionate believer in the role of mining as an important economic contributor, Laura’s career has taken her across the globe where she has witnessed the positive impacts the industry brings to individuals, communities and our way of life.
Laura is the Asset President of BHP Billiton’s Cannington Mine in North West Queensland and a Vice President of the Queensland Resources Council.
She currently lives in Townsville with her husband, three children and a large dog where they all enjoy the outdoors active lifestyle that goes with living in North Queensland.
Cindy is a single mother of four boys who put herself through university, as a mature age student, to attain her mechanical engineering degree.
She earned a scholarship offered by Anglo American, graduated with honours and won the Greg Garrick award for most outstanding scholarship recipient.
Now working as a graduate mechanical engineer at Anglo American Metallurgical Coal’s Moranbah North Mine, Cindy was one of the first mature-aged single mums to be accepted into the graduate program.
Cindy was part of the development of the new Grosvenor mine and contributed to making the new operation female friendly through the design suitable underground toilets and change room facilities on the surface.
She says it’s been challenging being a mature age single mum in a male dominated role, however her supervisors were very supportive, allowing flexible hours to meet family responsibilities.
‘I believe I have pushed boundaries to make things happen and Anglo American has been very supportive in this process, but there may be other females, not as strong and determined as myself who would like the same opportunities.’
Amy Woods, an Underground Install electrician at the Glencore Mount Isa Copper Operations loves the challenges of constantly changing technology.
After working as a computer technician, Amy re-trained as an electrician after feeling her career had stalled. And she hasn’t looked back.
Amy says her shift roster also allows her time to continue to work as a group fitness instructor at a local gym, adding to the variety of lifestyle options available in Mount Isa and helping to make the city a more vibrant, cosmopolitan place.
She encourages the women she works with to have confidence in their skills and recognise they have earned their place in the crew, just like everyone else.
‘The presence of women in mining workplaces has in itself played a positive role in removing the novelty or ‘shock factor’ that surrounds mining careers for women.’
Leah Ross is Thiess’ Mining Superintendent, Open Pit Operations, at the Curragh North Coal Mine.
She is no stranger to working in male-dominated industries, starting her working life as a butcher after being the only female to complete an apprenticeship in her in year.
She began her mining career at 21 in Western Australia and at 29 moved to Queensland where she has been a trail blazer for women in the industry.
Leah was Thiess’ first female dozer and excavator operator, first co-ordinator and first female superintendent .
Leah says her advancement from operator to superintendent in a short period of time shows that with a strong work ethic, determination and an open mind, advancement, no matter your gender, is possible.
‘I feel that my persistency, enthusiasm and ability to deliver has made many men rethink their prejudice towards women in the industry.’
As a working mother and Regional Manager for NSW at Rio Tinto Coal Australia, Heather has achieved incredible balance in her life successfully juggling her career, study and raising a family. She has two publications under her belt and at 39 weeks pregnant sat a three-hour MBA exam.
At just 27, Heather was the first female open-cut examiner and shift boss at NSW’s largest open-cut coal mine. Now with 11 years experience in the industry across a range of site, technical, corporate and managerial roles in Queensland and New South Wales, Heather’s determination to continue pushing the boundaries has inspired her recent promotion.
Heather says: ‘I believe that to continue changing attitudes towards women in the workforce it is important to focus on educating the men in our industry and this involves building strong, trusting and respectful relationships with men in everyday work’.
Lucya is Senior Metallurgist & Acting Metallurgy Manager with Xstrata Copper. Born in Indonesia, and completing her secondary schooling in Singapore, where she learnt also to speak English, Lucya immigrated to Australia to attend university.
A practical placement at the Boyne Aluminium Smelter on Boyne Island gave Lucya her first taste of the resources sector before being accepted into the Xstrata Mount Isa Mines Graduate Program in 2009. She quickly rose through the ranks and at just 27 is the Acting Metallurgy Manager for Mount Isa Copper Smelter; the most senior role at an operational level. Lucya says: ‘I have found that the industry is less concerned about who you are or whether you’re a man or a woman, and more interested in how capable you are and the skills you have to offer. While working in this industry can be challenging, I have never considered the fact that I am a woman as detrimental to my career in mining.’
Tamara is a Shift Electrician at Xstrata Copper’s Mount Isa mine. She is the first woman in her family to complete high school, her motivation being to secure a school-based apprenticeship with Xstrata. Tamara says: ‘I saw the value in holding a high school certificate and consequently I am now encouraging other young girls to do the same.’ And Tamara is a force not to be trifled with. She participates in competitive stick fighting and is a two-times world champion after travelling to the Philippines in 2008 and 2012 to compete.
As Production Supervisor at Anglo American’s Callide mine, Myf is the only woman production supervisor on site among 22 males. She is a member of the mines rescue team and has received a Queensland Flood and Cyclone Citation following her support for the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service in the 2013 floods. Myf actively promotes the resource sector and its opportunities to women both within the sector and to those enquiring on whether they should apply for the first time.
As Human Resources Specialist for Anglo American Metallurgical Coal, Rebecca’s vision for gender diversity is to see focus on ‘diversity’ or ‘difference’ shift more toward recognising the importance of ‘inclusion’, particularly to creating a fair, equitable, healthy and high performing business where all employees are respected, feel engaged and their contributions valued. In her current role, Rebecca has actively utilised her 13 years of experience in the black coal industry to develop and drive a comprehensive plan to address issues for women working in the company, including the implementation of initiatives including a pilot mentoring program to assist female professionals in their career progression.
Job: Open Pit Production Supervisor Handle Bar Hill open-cut
Company: Xstrata Zinc
Location: Mount Isa
As the owner, trainer and assessor of TNT Training Solutions, Tash has given endless time, at her own personal expense, to help women (and men) achieve their dreams by gaining valuable training qualifications in the hope to secure full-time employment within the mining and resources sector. She is a qualified Motor Mechanic and Mining Mechanical Fitter as well as holding qualifications in business, management, project management, vocational education and training, and human resources. She is also mother to 11 year old son, Reilly, .
Job: Open Pit Production Supervisor Handle Bar Hill open-cut
Company: Xstrata Zinc
Location: Mount Isa
Michelle is the first female to hold the position of open pit production supervisor at Xstrata Zinc. She has worked in a number of private businesses within Mount Isa, and was inspired by her brothers to move into the mining industry, where she has worked for the past six years. During that time she has mastered dump trucks, water carts, loaders, graders, dozers and diggers.
Michelle says: ‘I decided to work for this company for better opportunities in training and personal development. Due to my success as work I have been fortunate enough to be recognised as a leader and mentor for Aboriginal women across the North West. My role as supervisor has encouraged a number of women to work within the industry’.
Job: Apprentice Electrician
Company: BMA Peak Downs Mine
Rhiannon is an apprentice electrician at BMA’s Peak Downs Mine. She plans to use her trade qualification as a springboard to an electrical engineering degree believing the practical training in the trade will be invaluable in the future. Rhiannon, who grew up in Moranbah works on huge equipment such as draglines and electric shovels.
Rhiannon says: ‘Being a woman in a predominately male industry, it has occasionally been difficult to be taken seriously whilst at work, but over the past two years I believe I have changed the attitude of male workers in my workplace to be more accepting of females in the industry’
Qualifying as an engineer will always rate alongside Joann’s greatest career achievements, given that she undertook eight years of study at the busiest time in a young mother’s life.
Joann’s, who has held many senior engineering and management roles professional and personal achievements are a powerful inspiration to all women in demonstrating what can be achieved when a mother sets her mind on mature age entry into a profession.
Joann’s career is outstanding testament to her determination and ability to forge a career as an engineer in the resources sector during her children’s formative years.
Job: Project General Manager – Mining
Location: Dawson North Mine
Heather Parry has a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) and supervises 130 personnel. Heather has been active in the recruitment of women in the resources sector.
Heather is the 2011 winner of the Queensland Resources Council Resources Awards for Women.
Job: North Queensland Operations Safety and Health Manager
MaryAnn Wipaki is Glencore Xstrata’s North Queensland Operations Safety and Health Manager. She has worked for the Mount Isa copper mine for 16 years where she has broken new ground for women, being one of very few working underground when she started her career.
More than half her safety and health team are women, who make up 40 percent of the senior roles.
Job: Learning and Development Officer
Company:Rio Tinto Coal Australia
Location: Hail Creek Mine
Sharon Ward is a learning and development officer at Rio Tinto Coal Australia’s Hail Creek Mine.
Prior to entering the resources sector Sharon was a teacher aid at the Nebo State Primary School.
Sharon says she was looking for a new and challenging career and was encouraged by friends already working in the industry. She is an active member of the Nebo community, instructing swimming and horse riding and is active in the SES unit and ambulance committee.
She says: ‘It’s great that more women are entering (the resources sector) and I hope that my story will encourage others to take the same leap of faith that I did. It’s certainly been worth it.’
Kerrie-Lea Nicholas is co-winner in the operator category of the 2011 Resources Awards for Women.
Job: mining technician
Location: Ernest Henry Mine
Kerrie-Lea Nicholas is a mining technician at Xstrata Copper’s Ernest Henry mine.
She operates giant haul trucks as well as a variety of other equipment.
She enjoys the variety of the work and the mateship that comes with it. Through her role as a trainer and assessor she mentors and supports both men and women, and is a role model for women entering the sector.
Kerrie-Lea came to the resources after a varied career including farmhand, and manager of the Cloncurry Airport.
Job: Mine technician/electrician
Location:Moranbah North Mine
Simone Forbes is a mine technician/electrician at Anglo American’s Moranbah North Mine in Central Queensland.
She had been accepted to study at university, but wanted to pursue a career that was more hands-on.
After working for Queensland Rail, she joined Anglo after being inspired by female friends who worked in the mines at Blackwater.
She says: ‘When people say ‘I couldnt’ do that, I couldn’t work underground’, it just makes me want to do it even more.
Job: electrical fitter
Location:Mount Isa Mine
Amanda Humphrey is an electrical fitter mechanic at Xstrata Copper’s Mount Isa Mine.
It’s the fulfilment of a life-long dream after being inspired by her electrician brother.
Amanda completed her apprenticeship just 18 months ago, but has already supervised a team of electricians and apprentices.
She says: ‘I would encourage any woman looking for an exciting and rewarding career to change to pursue a trade.’
Job: General Manager Processing
Company: BHP Billiton
Location: Olympic Dam (SA)
Jennifer Mackenzie, recent joint winner of the 2010 Resources Award for Women is proof that women in the mining industry can reach great heights.
A metallurgical engineer, Jennifer was the first female mine manager at a BMA mine.
In addition to her impressive repertoire of skills, she has held the position of mining manager at Norwich Park Mine and is the first female to have held a position as coal handling and preparation manager (CHPP) at Saraji Mine. She is currently General Manager Processing at BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.
During her time as CHPP manager she led the team in achieving record safety and production results over successive financial years. Additionally members of her team were awarded the People’s Choice Award at the Townsville Safety Conference for the development of the ‘Feeder Blockage Removal Device’, a safety innovation shared across the resources sector
In her 14 year mining career, she has taken it upon herself to promote women in the industry. She founded the BMA Operational Working Women’s group (OWWG), a group aimed at promoting, mentoring, developing and retaining women in operational roles.
Through community engagement and professional development, the OWWG plays a critical role in BMA’s diversity and employer choice strategies.
‘Throughout my career, I’ve always attended meetings as one of a few, I’ve never really had a lot of other women to look up to as mentors or roles models,’ said Jennifer.
In her earlier career she took an active role in community events targeted at increasing the level of women employed within the industry and is still an official and unofficial mentor to a number of women.
‘I have the most women in my team of any department on-site. My capacity as a mentor ranges from periodic phone calls to formal career development sessions and advice on career choices.
‘As a woman in my current position, I have the ability to not only positively influence those coming after me, but also set the standard by which all in the industry should expect professional women to conduct themselves.’
In 2009 Jennifer was accepted into the BMA’s accelerated leadership development program, a privilege only offered to 21 people across the globe.
‘Since choosing a career in this sector, I’ve never looked back. My work has given me opportunities to live in some amazing parts of Australia, to work overseas and above all, to continue to challenge myself in ways I could never imagined as a 17 year old heading off from Darwin to Adelaide to commence my tertiary studies.
‘The knowledge that others can also see my professional success as a means of achieving their own is also a source of inspiration to me.’
Susan, a mechanical and petroleum engineer has broken new ground for women in the resources sector.
In the early 1990s she was possibly the first female engineer to work in the Jackson oilfields in south-west Queensland and the first woman to work offshore for global oilfield and information services company Schlumberger in the Java Sea.
She has more than 15 years’ experience in the energy and infrastructure industries, having held engineering, operations, management and executive level positions.
Her work has taken her to Indonesia, the Middle East and North America.
Now back in Brisbane, she is drawing on her international experience to make a positive contribution to the world-class projects currently under way in Queensland.
Being one of few women in her field has been a common theme in her career, and has often been the only woman on leadership teams.
Susan says that as a mother and professional working woman, she relishes being able to help create opportunities for future engineers and scientists and to demonstrate that what was previously a male-dominated industry and profession is now accessible to anyone.
‘It is important to me to play a role in creating greater options not just for my own daughters, but for all bright young women out there that I have contact with through my mentoring and interface with in my involvement with education,’ she said.
Her involvement in education includes establishing a program between QUT and Lourdes Hill College to allow Lourdes Hill College students access to the QUT Engineering prac labs and lessons as well as visits from QUT Ambassadors to the college each term.
‘This is aimed at increasing the interest in and awareness of careers in engineering and science – particularly to the younger grades to ensure their senior subject selection allows for progression to tertiary courses,’ said Susan.
‘I am determined that soon pink will be a perfectly acceptable colour for hard hats and the aesthetics of steel caps will be given the attention they deserve.’
Job: Open Cut Examiner
Location: Norwich Park
Jan Simpson is accustomed to working in male-dominated industries having worked as a butcher and electrical trade assistant before embarking on her career in the mining sector.
Joining BMA in 2003 as a trainee production operator, her passion for safety soon led her to become a trainee open-cut examiner.
‘BMA was calling for applicants and I was given the opportunity to pursue and obtain my open- cut examiner’s ticket whilst still working in production.
‘The mining industry gives you the opportunities to strive for a greater you.’
Jan’s personal motto ‘never put off for tomorrow what you can achieve today’ has been instrumental in her progression to Norwich Park’s first ever female open-cut examiner.
Her current role involves identifying hazards, liaising with management and geotechnical staff and ensuring measures are put into place to control safety risks. She is also an adept assistant shot firer.
Jan says she hopes her desire to achieve in the industry is inspiring other women at her mine to ‘have a go’.
‘Being Norwich Park’s first female open-cut examiner I hope to inspire other women from coal operations that you have a choice, you just don’t have to be a truck driver.
‘We are responsible for our own choices.’
Jan is actively involved in supporting BMA’s Operational Women’s Group. By visiting schools in the area to encourage support for women in the industry, Jan believes the group is playing a vital role addressing gender inequities.
Sitting the coal mining law exam, she has also acquired her site senior executive notice and is busy continuing her studies externally through Charles Darwin University.
‘What inspires me about my work is that no hazard is uncontrollable and I can make a difference to create a safe working environment in a high risk industry.’
Job: Electrical Apprentice Team Leader at the Xstrata Skills Centre
Location: Mt Isa Mines
Kerry Brisbane has broken new ground for women in the resources sector, being the first female tradesperson to work underground at Mount Isa Mines.
She is now pivotal in encouraging young people to take on trade careers in her role as electrical team leader at the Xstrata Skills Centre, which runs the largest apprenticeship program in north Queensland.
Kerry has designed and implemented a number of industry-leading work experience and apprenticeship programs aimed at promoting the mining industry and creating clear pathways for youth.
‘One thing I find incredibly rewarding and inspiring about my job is the opportunity to work with young men and women (mostly local and indigenous youth) to help them overcome challenges they face in today’s society,’said Kerry.
Since its inception in 2006, the Xstrata Skills Centre has trained more than 250 apprentices, 130 of them electrical.
‘The training programs that we implement provide our company with well trained, safety focussed and disciplined apprentices who can positively contribute to both the company and society in general,’ said Kerry
‘Back when I did my apprenticeship, there were no work experience programs, which is why I am so passionate about creating career pathways and work experience programs to provide youth with a vision and get them excited about their career.’
Knowing only too well the type treatment that women once received in the mining industry, Kerry says she hopes being recognised through the Resources Awards for Women will promote and empower other women in the sector.
She was once kicked out of a workshop because the apprentice master didn’t believe that women had a place there. However, he was forced to take her back and 30 years later Kerry is living proof that women can be high achievers in the field.
‘In my role, I have the opportunity to mentor, encourage and promote women every day. We currently have 10 female apprentices across the lease.’
Eight years into her career in 1988, Kerry was involved in the Tradeswoman on the Move campaign that promoted non-traditional trades to female students from Mackay to Cairns and Mount Isa. She says it made her realise how lucky she was to come from a mining town.
‘I was offered an electrical apprenticeship in 1980. However I can’t say I chose my career, I was just lucky to stumble into a job that I fell in love with.’
Job: Washplant Operator
Location: Gregory Mine
From veterinary nurse to washplant operator, Louise Burridge was wooed by the mining industry in 2006 when she decided she needed a new challenge in her life.
She joined BMA Gregory Mine as its first female production trainee and just six months later, accepted the position as washplant operator.
‘I may be one of only a few women working at BMA Gregory Mine but I feel there is no end to the number of goals that I can achieve.’
Responsible for train loading, washplant operating and stockpile management, a vital part of Louise’s role is completing these tasks in a safe manner.
‘At the end of the day, seeing my duties completed safely and efficiently gives me great satisfaction.’
Through her crowning of the 2009 Central Highlands Sunflower Queen title, Louise has travelled to Canada where she promoted the mining industry to women.
‘We raised $20,000 for the Emerald Neighbourhood Centre charity through the Sunflower Festival Queen Quest and I have made it well known in my speeches that you can achieve a successful and worthwhile career in an industry that was once dominated by males.’
When asked about the size of the equipment and how it is possible to control such large machinery, Louise has one answer.
‘With good on-the-job training you can do it.’
The first female to gain a TAFE credited certificate in minor maintenance at BMA Gregory Mine, Louise is always encouraging women to apply for jobs in the industry.
‘Being the first female trainee, I feel I have led the way for future females to be employed at our mine site.
‘My occupation is not always glamorous, as getting dirty is a part of the job, but the satisfaction that I gain at the end of the day is well worth it.’
Job: Leading Hand / Supervisor
Company: Leighton Contractors
Location: Peak Downs Mine
Kylie Kerr had her mind made up by the time she was 10 years old that she wanted a career in the mining sector.
Growing up in a mining town, constantly surrounded by miners, her dream to become an excavation operator was realised when she was employed by Leighton Contractors.
She built up her reputation as a highly skilled and competent operator; these skills were put to good use when promoted to leading hand/supervisor of a mining production crew.
‘Being in a supervisory position with the company gives me the opportunity to teach operators to be beneficial to the company and themselves through improving their own skill levels at work.
‘My ongoing inspiration is that I am accepted by my managers, peers and crews and my self-satisfaction of achievement through my own endeavours and my own genuine love of my work.
‘Apart from loving my job, I also like to teach and mentor the younger generation of women that are progressing through the mining industry.’
‘This mentorship has helped other women enter and succeed in the industry when they may not have previously,’ Kylie said.
Throughout her career, Kylie’s leadership has broken new ground, pushing for equal opportunity based on business values and competency.
Her competency is not only limited to the mine site but to the Moranbah BMX track also where on her days off, she puts her excavation expertise to good use. An active member of the community, she has also been involved in a renovation rescue of a work colleagues house while he was being treated for cancer.
‘Being a model for a company that promotes equal opportunity as a business value is a great way to contribute to the resources sector.’
Job: Production Trainee
Company: Anglo Metallurgical Coal
Location: Dawson Mine
Mother of six children, Patricia Rankin is an inspiration to all mothers wishing to pursue a career in the mining industry.
From an early age she was fascinated by large machinery and in 2008 decided she was able to reignite this interest and was accepted as a production trainee at Dawson Mine, enabling her to realise her dream of driving trucks.
Commuting from Woorabinda to the mine site requires Patricia to be away from her family for up to five days at a time, although she says she is lucky to have such a supportive family who are always eager to hear her work stories.
‘The thing I love most about my job is the fact that I get to drive some of the largest machinery in the world. It is so big some days I feel like I’m driving my house around.
‘One thing that particularly amazes me is the speed at which the mine site can change in appearance. It’s the best feeling knowing and actually physically seeing that I have played a part in the ever-changing pit formation.’
Patricia’s interest in joining the mining industry has never been driven by money.
‘The major attraction was the opportunity to be a positive role model for my children and for the other women in my community.’
Last year she was a Trainee of the Year finalist in the Mining Industry Skill Centre Awards.
Patricia says she is proof that you don’t have to be a young male or have 20 years of experience to have a career in mining.
Actively encouraging other women, especially indigenous women, to pursue a career in the resources industry is one of her passions.
‘My employment and career progression at Dawson is helping educate all people that it is possible to have a meaningful career and be a mum at the same time, as well as instill the important values of providing for your family.’
Job:(former) East End Mine Manager (SSE)
Company: Cement Australia
Location: Mount Larcom
Sandra’s rise to the top of her game in the resources sector has taken sheer guts and determination.
The 2009 Resources Award for Women winner from Gladstone fought legislation that prevented women from working in underground mines and won.
She was also one of only two women to have managed a mine in Queensland and the first woman to study mining engineering in Queensland (only the second in Australia). To her knowledge, she was also the first female mining engineer to actually work in the mining industry in the country.
In 1985, while working at a metalliferous mine in Cobar NSW, she fought for and gained an exemption from state legislation that prevented women from working underground so that she could work and study for her underground mine management certification.
After a career that has spanned a number of countries and a variety of roles, including an as an executive for Macquarie Bank, Sandra has for the past three years managed Cement Australia’s East End Mine at Mount Larcom near Gladstone. The 3.5 million tonne per annum mine supplies limestone, alumina and silica for the company’s Fisherman’s Landing cement plant.
Sandra has also managed a very busy family life, helping her husband raise three sons and two step daughters, while also managing to contribute significantly to the communities in which she has lived and worked.
Job: Electrical Maintenance Planner
Company: BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance
Location: Crinum Mine, central Queensland
In her role with BMA, Julie says communication is the key.
As the 2009 Trade Resources Award for Women winner, Julie communicates daily to each department and plans maintenance work every week, then distributes the work load to the electricians.
She says being an electrician for approximately 15 years, has had its challenges but it’s an achievable and rewarding path to take.
‘I’m able to attend breakdowns on my own, fix equipment, supervise apprentices, nurture new starters in our standards, make decisions and stick to them when required,’ she said.
Born and bred in Mount Isa, Julie says Mount Isa Mines were always encouraging local women to take up non-traditional roles such as apprentices and operators.
‘I knew quite a few girls who were successful in securing apprenticeships as either electricians or fitters,’ she said.
‘The best option for me was to pursue an electrical apprenticeship and in these times, I find the industry more interesting and challenging than ever!’
Julie says the opportunities to branch off and do other things are limitless too.
‘My job allows me to save, to be financially independent, pay off a house, and support my son and of course feel really satisfied at the end of a day’s work.’
‘My contribution to BMA, and the resources sector in general, has assisted in changing the male workforce’s view on women in trades.’
‘In most locations I have worked, there has always been some barriers to overcome, and tradespeople and male workers who have never worked with a female electrician before.’
‘It never took that long for me to fit in with most crews and be accepted. It was always a job that had to be done because it was important for me to be treated equally.’
Julie says her role has always been a fascinating topic and conversation piece in mining communities.
‘I enjoy sharing my experiences with other people, particularly females considering entering the industry. During my working life I have appeared in a couple of videos performing electrical work for my employers at the time.’
‘One was for a television advertisement for a company in Cairns. I have always agreed to do these as it increases the profile of women working in this industry.’
‘I have also supervised and mentored male apprentices and have developed good working relationships and feel they respect and value my contribution.’
Julie is also passionate about climate change, energy reduction, and eco friendly products. She has her own business, Ecovidual, which sells environmentally friendly products over the internet and incorporates an electrical contracting component as well.
Job: Production Manager
Company: BHP Billiton
Melanie Gordon is a young engineer who loves working in the resources sector and will take any opportunity to tell others how fantastic a career in the industry can be.
She was the 2008 winner of the Queensland Resources Council’s Annual Resources Award for Women, and the 2008 Smart Women Smart State engineering award.
Melanie has won three awards in as many years. In 2006, she won an outstanding achievement award so her passion for the industry has only grown stronger over the three years.
Melanie was the first woman appointed by the company to project manage a dragline shutdown. In this role she was responsible for 176 people.
She is now Manager Production for BHP Billiton.
She has appeared in newspapers, magazines, books and on radio to spread the word about careers in the sector.
‘If you have any interest in working in the resources industry, then give it a go,’ she says.
‘Certainly don’t ever think that females don’t belong in the resources industry because I know many amazing women who have achieved amazing things and have stories similar to mine.’
Initially, Melanie joined the resources sector for high pay and other benefits such as subsidised rent and medical insurance.
She intended to save some money, get some practical experience on mine sites and move back to her home city of Brisbane after about two years.
Well, that was more than a decade ago. In that time she married her husband, also an engineer, who she met at university, and is happy to swap the bright lights of the city for life in the close-knit community of Moranbah.
Melanie has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, a Graduate Certificate in Mineral Resources, Masters of Science and Technology in Industrial Safety and a Masters of Project Management.
Job: General Manager, Yarrie Mine
Company: BHP Billiton
Tina was Queensland’s first ever female manager of a major mining operation. In mid April 2009, she moved to a marketing role based in Singapore with BHP Billiton, which just goes to show that the industry can lead you into a variety of jobs and places around the world.
Born in Vancouver, Tina has more than 15 years experience in mine operations, mine development, mine planning, environmental permitting, and contract management.
She has also worked in multiple commodities and in both open-cut and underground environments.
Tina’s childhood was spent in several mining towns with both her father and grandfather underground miners.
However, it was her experience and exposure to civil and geotechnical engineers at the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited Underground Research Laboratory that inspired her to become a mine engineer and eventually manage mine operations.
Tina says winning the QRC’s 2006 inaugural Resources Award for Women showed other females that they can succeed at a senior level in the industry.
‘The mining industry offers such a diverse range of experiences that it is difficult to become bored. It is a great place to be if you like to set and work towards achieving goals and then see them materialise,’ said Tina.
‘It (the industry) is very inspiring from designing a pit and then seeing its eventual extraction to recruiting individuals to form a solid team and being responsible for its productivity.’
Tina’s inherent leadership has also seen her take on a mentoring role, which includes helping set up the BMA Pilot Mentoring Program for Women.
‘Essentially, if someone wishes to make an impact in the resources industry they can. I love the interaction and as a manager it is very rewarding to coach others and help them develop their technical and leadership skills.’
Job: Professor School of Earth Sciences
Company: University of Queensland (UQ)
Sue is an educator, a research scientist and a consulting geologist who contributes widely to the minerals and energy resources sector.
In this time of critical skills shortages in the sector, Sue’s contribution to education of both geologists and engineers is highly valued.
Sue was recognised for her work in the 2007 Resources Awards for Women and received a ‘Significant Contribution’ award.
Her research into the industry is varied from understanding the origins of the atmosphere and oceans on earth to finding new ore bodies and geo-sequestering carbon dioxide into coal seams.
By example, Sue is a leader in the resources and academic sector, giving young women a vision of opportunities for them in a non-traditional profession.
She loves teaching and it shows when she weaves a story through a lecture, whether to university students, visiting schools or colleagues at a conference.
Job: Geological Project Manager
Company: Runge Limited
Merryl Peterson is a qualified geologist, with experience in mining operations, exploration and regional geological mapping.She has worked on numerous consulting projects for coal operations, both in Australia and internationally.Merryl is competent in the use of several major geological modelling systems, including Minescape, Vulcan and Minex.She is also JORC competent for reporting of coal resources.
Merryl is the geological project manager for Runge Limited and a senior mining consultant.
She joined Runge in 1999 and established a team to perform geological modelling for both coal and metalliferous deposits.
Her role within Runge provides reliable and robust geological models that feed seamlessly into the business planning projects.
Merryl consults primarily in the areas of due diligence, valuation, feasibility and mine planning.