Qld’s wonder woman takes home top national award

  • Posted 06 September, 2022
  • Media Releases

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

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Gold Coast-based engineer and FIFO worker Lydia Gentle has taken out the top honours at tonight’s prestigious BHP 2022 Women in Resources National Awards, presented by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) in Canberra.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said Lydia is an outstanding example of the world-class workforce behind the state’s $84.3 billion resources sector.

On top of being a mother of two, Lydia heads a team of 600 people at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Peak Downs metallurgical coal mine near Moranbah in Central Queensland.

With a mining career spanning 17 years, in 2019 Lydia received an Order of Australia for her services to engineering. She is also the youngest Australian to achieve engineering executive status with Engineers Australia and is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“I hope Lydia’s achievements and her long-standing commitment to promoting excellence in our industry will inspire more women to pursue a highly paid and highly skilled career in our industry,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The door is wide open for more women to follow a trade or professional pathway into Queensland’s minerals and energy sector, which now has 7000 female employees.”

Mr Macfarlane congratulated Lydia and the four other Queensland finalists in the national awards on their contribution to the industry and accomplishments.

“These awards play a pivotal role in our sector’s efforts to bring better gender balance to our workforce,” he said.

“This is also the second year in a row that a Queensland woman has taken out the top national award, following Maryann Wipaki’s impressive win in 2021.

MCA Chief Executive Officer Tania Constable said awards were an opportunity to celebrate the diversity and contributions that women bring to the Australian resources sector.

“Twenty years ago, only 9,000 women were employed by Australian mining. Today, 57,000 women comprise 21 per cent of the mining workforce represented at all levels – from company boards to the on-site workforces at mine sites across the country,” Ms Constable said.

Mr Macfarlane said the face of the sector’s workforce is set to change dramatically over the next three years, as companies accelerate efforts to achieve 30 percent female participation by 2026.

“There is very strong support within Queensland resources companies to incorporate gender diversity into their mainstream business plans, because they recognise that with diversity comes improved safety, innovation and productivity.” he said.

According to the QRC’s latest State of the Sector report, 85 percent of Queensland CEOs believe a more diverse and inclusive workforce improves staff attraction and retention rates, and more than half (62%) believe it boosts business performance, productivity and employee wellbeing.

More than half (52%) said their organisation was already implementing new initiatives such as cultural awareness programs, paid parental leave above government requirements, mentoring and networking opportunities for women and gender pay gap audits.

The QRC congratulates all winners of this year’s Women in Resources National Awards including: 

Newcrest Exceptional Young Woman in Australian Resources Award
Elle Farris, Corporate Counsel, Newmont Australia for her inspiring career journey and rapid progression within the resources sector, and her public calls to action to eliminate unacceptable behaviours.

Thiess Outstanding Australian Tradeswoman, Operator or Technician Award

Casey Martin, Underground Bogger Operator & tele-remote operation, Alkane Resources for her outstanding professional capability and support for women’s career advancement.

Maptek Women in Resources Technological Innovation Award

Emily Jaques, Senior Plant Metallurgist, Newcrest Mining for her innovative work on improving coarse gold recovery at Cadia through the use of HydroFloat technology.

Rio Tinto Gender Diversity Champion in Australian Resources Award

Michelle Wetherell, Superintendent, Human Resources, Training and Organisational Development, CMOC-Northparkes Mines for her stewardship of a large number and variety of programs that have contributed to the growing inclusion and diversity at Northparkes.

Applications for the 2023 Queensland Resources Awards for Women are now open, welcoming entries and nominations from women and men across the resources sector who are championing inclusion and diversity initiatives in their companies.