Qld resources sector celebrates record-breaking year in diversity stakes and announces winners of Women in Resources awards

  • Posted 10 March, 2021
  • Media Releases

10 March 2021

TV/audio grabs of statement by QRC Chief Executive, Ian Macfarlane

L to R: Photo of QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane and Winner of Exceptional Woman in Resources Award, Maryann Wipaki 


Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane today congratulated all of Queensland’s 2021 Resources Awards for Women winners and finalists.

Exceptional Woman in Resources – Maryann Wipaki, Mount Isa

Maryann Wipaki is General Manager of Health, Safety, Environment and Community for Glencore Metals, based in Mount Isa. She is a 25-year mining veteran and the only female of 10 senior leaders within Glencore’s metals operations in Australia. Ms Wipaki manages health and safety, environmental performance, community engagement and social performance for copper and zinc mining and processing operations across North Queensland, which employ more than 4700 people. For more details click here.

Exceptional Young Woman in Resources – Ashleigh Turner, Brisbane

Ashleigh Turner is Procurement Manager at Hastings Deering, based in Brisbane, where she manages an annual $2 billion budget. She was the first person to complete the highly regarded Blackwood’s Aggregator Project in under 12 months and has been recognised as Young Talent of the Year by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. Ms Turner was shortlisted for the 2021 Young Australian of the Year and her podcast Empower with Ash aims to help domestic violence survivors become thrivers. For more details click here.

Full list of winners below:

Exceptional Woman in Technological Innovation – Sharna Glover, Co-Founder and CEO, Imvelo.ai, Brisbane. More details here.

Gender Diversity Champion in Resources – Liz Hansen, Culture and Inclusions Manager, Anglo American, Brisbane. More details here.

Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance – TransCoal, Brisbane. More details here.

Exceptional Female QMEA Student – Caitlin Boothby, Biloela State High School, Biloela. More details here.

Mr Macfarlane said all the award winners were leaders in their field and demonstrated the exciting career opportunities available for women in Queensland’s $82.6 billion resources sector, which supports 420,000 jobs across the state both directly and indirectly.

He said the future was bright for women wanting a career in resources, with new data showing a 25 percent increase in the number of females working in the industry over the past financial year (rising from 5472 FTE in 2018/2019 to 6841 FTE in 2019/20).

Resources also recorded just over a 52 percent increase in the size of its female workforce over the past five years, with more women moving into ‘non-traditional’ engineering, trades, operator and executive management roles (rising from 4493 FTE in 2015/16 to 6841 FTE in 2019/2020).

Mr Macfarlane told more than 950 guests at a QRC/Women in Mining & Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) International Women’s Day breakfast, held in conjunction with the Queensland Resources Awards for Women in Brisbane today, that a gender-balanced workforce was not a ‘nice thing to have’ but a necessity to keep the resources sector operating at full capacity.

“There is fierce competition to attract skilled people into our industry which means we need to attract and retain more women so we can continue to grow our sector to supply the world with the minerals and energy it needs,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Queensland can play a global role in producing in-demand raw materials and critical minerals needed for renewable energy infrastructure and technologies, but we need a skilled and diverse workforce in place to make this a reality.”

Release of sector diversity report

The QRC’s latest diversity report “Winning Women” reveals the number of women working in so-called ‘non-traditional’ roles in resources has increased by a record three percentage points – or 30 percent – over the past financial year to reach almost 17 percent (rising from 14% in 2018/19 to 17% in 2019/2020).

The proportion of women in trade careers has also risen by almost 70 percent over the past 12 months from 4.8 percent in 2018/19 to 7.4 percent in 2019/20 which is a record increase in this traditionally hard to change statistic (270 FTE jobs to 447 FTE jobs).

Mr Macfarlane said the latest figures are a step in the right direction and demonstrate the resources sector is serious about increasing workforce diversity.

“I think we can take a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come, before we pin our ears back and set new targets to create the step-change needed to bring the resources workforce closer to gender parity,” he said.

Mr Macfarlane said the resources industry had shown remarkable resilience and determination to keep working, earning and employing its way through COVID.

“I think history will reflect positively on our sector during this challenging time, as we have proved our worth to the state economy and to jobs,” he said.

“We’ve shown that when the chips are down, you can count on resources to help Queensland recover. “

Resources Industry Recovery Plan to maximise economic recovery

Mr Macfarlane said Queensland can also count on resources to come up with solutions, which is why the adoption of a Resources Industry Development Plan is so critical to Queensland’s economic recovery from COVID.

“The Queensland Government’s commitment to work with the QRC and other stakeholders on a Resources Industry Development Plan to maximise Queensland’s recovery from COVID heralds a new era in government and industry cooperation and collaboration,” he said.

“Resources Minister Scott Stewart is playing a lead role in ensuring the government delivers on this plan, and I commend Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Cameron Dick for their support of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure Queensland’s future as a global resources’ superpower.”

Mr Macfarlane said an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic had been the re-imagining of how people work, with evidence showing most employees perform well in a remote environment and many in fact have increased their productivity.

“The pandemic has normalised working from home and flexible arrangements for both men and women, enabling in many cases for caring roles to be shared more equitably,” he said.

“The emergence of a more flexible working environment makes it easier for women to stay in our workforce, to say yes to that training, to travel to those meetings and conferences, to take those promotions and to show that leadership.”

Qld Minerals and Energy Academy and mentoring programs driving growth in female participation

Mr Macfarlane said the QRC’s highly successful Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) – now in 80 schools around Queensland – was also having an enormous impact on attracting young women into the resources sector.

The QMEA is funded through a QRC members’ levy, support from individual companies and additional funding from the Queensland Government’s Gateway to Industry Schools Program
Government data shows 13 percent of female QMEA students who entered apprenticeships or traineeships in Queensland last year chose to work in mining, compared to 2.7 percent of female students from non-QMEA schools.

And 11 percent of female students from QMEA schools entered engineering and related technology studies in 2020 compared with just 3.4 percent of girls from non-QMEA schools, which is up 4 percent on 2019.

Mr Macfarlane said industry initiatives such as female mentoring programs were also helping improve gender diversity in the resources sector.

More than 300 women have benefited from the QRC/WIMARQ Women’s Mentoring Program since 2014, with almost 90 percent of participants saying it had benefitted their career or was directly responsible for a promotion.

In 2020, almost every Year 12 girl involved in the QMEA/WIMARQ Girls Mentoring Program said their mentors made them more aware of the many careers available in resources. Of those, 86 percent entered STEM-related careers including trade careers, with 86 percent entering resources-related education or training or a health field that supports regional communities.

Today’s IWD breakfast and awards event featured keynote speaker, Queensland University of Technology Chancellor and resources industry leader Dr Xiaoling Liu. A copy of Dr Liu’s speech is here.

Media contact: Caroline Morrissey, 0417 770 893