Archive | Women in Mining

Women were only let into underground mines 30 years ago, so why are they leaving the industry? – by Isabel Moussalli (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – August 14, 2018)

http://www.abc.net.au/

When Alex Atkins joined the WA School of Mines in 1986, she had no idea she would be part of the first wave of women legally allowed to work in underground mines.

Until 1986, West Australian mine owners faced fines of up to $500 if women were caught working underground. New South Wales and Queensland changed their laws in 1989. But 32 years later, Ms Atkins said more changes were needed to bring the industry up to speed and encourage more women to stay.

The mining industry has long presented barriers for the participation of women — the lack of flexible work arrangements, the reliance on fly-in-fly-out labour, and the dominance of men in senior positions. Continue Reading →

Cat Calling, Whistling and Groping Greet Women in Mines of Chile – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – August 8, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Despite efforts pushing for gender equality, the Chilean mining industry, slow to change, is still notoriously inhospitable to women.

The first time Karen Requena entered the cafeteria at BHP Billiton’s massive Escondida mining operation in northern Chile, she couldn’t help feeling countless eyes fixed on her body as she walked across the vast hall.

“It can’t get worse than that,” she thought. Then as Requena looked for a place to sit, the noise started. Thousands of men began banging their knives and forks against their plates. The pace of the deafening clattering picked up as she searched for an empty seat.

That’s how it went day in and day out at the world’s largest copper mine. It was 2012, and Requena was working 10-day shifts as an Escondida safety officer for BHP Billiton contractor Villatol. Soon she began eating in her room alone. Continue Reading →

Paul Conibear to step aside as Lundin Mining CEO; CFO Marie Inkster to become CEO – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – July 26, 2018)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Paul Conibear, Lundin Mining Corp.’s long-serving chief executive officer, has decided to retire, and will be replaced by current chief financial officer Marie Inkster at the end of the year.

Mr. Conibear, 61, has been Lundin’s CEO since 2011. He will continue to sit on a number of boards but has “no intention of ever working full time again,” and intends to pursue interests outside of mining, he said in an interview on Wednesday.

Ms. Inkster will be one of the first female CEOs of a major mining company in Canada. The changing of the guard at one of Canada’s biggest base-metals companies comes as Lundin is getting ready to ramp up its attempts to buy Nevsun Resources Ltd. Continue Reading →

Eira Thomas takes the reins at Lucara – by Alisha Hiyate (Northern Miner – June 19, 2018)

http://www.northernminer.com/

Lightning has struck more than once so far in Eira Thomas’s career of more than 25 years. The geologist famously spotted a nearly 2-carat diamond in drill core — an incredibly rare occurrence — during exploration at Lac de Gras in 1994, at what would become the Diavik mine in the Northwest Territories.

And as a founder and director of Lucara Diamond (TSX: LUC), she was part of the leadership when the company unearthed a 1,109-carat stone — the second largest diamond in history — at its Karowe mine in Botswana in November 2015.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” said Thomas in an interview in May. “Those were obviously two exciting milestones for me in my career, but I think with each and every project that I’ve worked on there’ve been those moments.” Continue Reading →

Copper King Pushes Gender Diversity — With All-Male Board – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – May 28, 2018)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg) — As it battles to remain the world’s biggest copper producer, Codelco just achieved a new, less enviable mantle — the only major mining company with an all-male board and senior management team.

On Friday, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera tapped executive Juan Benavides to be chairman of the state-owned company. Earlier this month, he appointed Hernan de Solminihac and Patricio Briones as directors, replacing Dante Contreras and Laura Albornoz, then the only woman on the nine-member board. Chile is the biggest copper-mining nation.

Gender diversity is one of Codelco’s strategic objectives, according to its annual report. But the company has no women in top management, including vice presidents or mine managers. Women make up just 5.4 percent of the company’s senior administrators and 9.5 percent of its total workforce. To be sure, that last figure is higher than the average in Chilean mines. Continue Reading →

All-women mine rescue team hoping to break down barriers – by Alex MacPherson *Saskatoon StarPhoenix – May 14, 2018)

http://thestarphoenix.com/

Kari Lentowicz hopes taking what is thought to be the world’s first all-female mine rescue team to a major competition in Russia will help demolish barriers in a male-dominated industry.

The seven-member group, nicknamed Diamonds in the Rough, is currently raising the $84,000 it needs to travel to Ekaterinburg for the 2018 iteration of the biennial International Mines Rescue Competition.

Lentowicz, who spent more than a decade working in Saskatchewan’s mining industry and has spoken previously about her struggles in a sector dominated by men, is serving as the Diamonds’ coach. Continue Reading →

Samantha Espley: Sudbury miner named head of Canadian Institute of Mining council – Staff (Northern Ontario Business – April 30, 2018)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Samantha Espley has been named the incoming president of the Presidents Council for the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) for the 2020-2021 year. Espley is the director of Vale’s Technical Excellence Centre of Mining and Mineral Processing in Sudbury.

“I feel honoured to be asked to lead CIM. It’s an amazing feeling,” Espley said in an April 25 news release. “A big question now is how the Canadian mining industry can stay competitive in the global industry. I think CIM can play a major role in that, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Espley, who has more than 25 years in the industry, is a board member of MIRARCO and the Canada Mining Innovation Council and a past member of the executive board of Engineers Canada, Science North, and the Sudbury branches of Women in Science and Engineering and Professional Engineers Ontario. Continue Reading →

You Don’t Have to Dig a Mine to Run One, Female Leaders Say – by Danielle Bochove and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – May 3, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Eira Thomas has discovered diamonds in the far north, co-founded mining companies and sat on a dozen boards — including Canada’s most valuable energy company.

So the 49-year-old was a little taken aback when an investor recently suggested she needed to hire an engineer as chief operating officer to back her up in the executive suite. She was, after all, only a geologist.

“I’m 30 years in this business,” said Thomas, who took over as chief executive officer of Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corp. in February. “I’ve been involved in multiple projects that have gone on to become mines. I sit on the board of Suncor. And I just wonder if a male, newly appointed CEO with the same credentials, would have faced the same commentary?’’ Continue Reading →

Strip-Club Promos Vie With Gender Equality at Mining Expo – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – April 26, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Latin America’s top mining exposition kicked off with a seminar on promoting gender equality. Meanwhile, at the exhibition center a few miles away, women in tight dresses and high heels posed next to mining tool booths and strip-club promoters at the entrance offered two-for-one drink coupons to attendees.

The week-long Expomin event in Chile offered a glimpse at both how far the industry has come — and how far it has to go. The last time the event was held, in 2016, Chile’s then Mining Minister Aurora Williams called for an end to the use of women as a commercial hook and set a 10 percent target of female participation in the sector for 2018. The industry hasn’t yet met that goal.

As a symbol of its commitment, Expomin opened with its “Women and Mining” panel. About half of the speakers at the session were women, a marked contrast with the overall event. Continue Reading →

‘Ironic twist’: #MeToo strikes mining industry in its own way after PDAC scraps panel on women – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – March 16, 2018)

http://business.financialpost.com/

The biggest mining conference of the year cancelled its session on “tackling gender bias” in the sector

Maria Ezpeleta was planning to fly to Toronto earlier this month to speak about the impact of mining projects on women when she heard the news: The panel session, on “tackling gender bias” in the mining sector, was called off.

In an ironic twist, the discussion of gender bias had been ensnared by #MeToo — the growing movement to stop sexual harassment — because new accusations were surfacing against men linked to Ezpeleta’s organization, Oxfam.

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, which hosts one of the oldest and largest mining conferences in the world, scrapped the session from this year’s agenda, citing negative news surrounding panel organizer Oxfam, a U.K. charity, which faces allegations it covered up for ex-workers in Haiti accused of using prostitutes. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Women miners shouldn’t be seen as victims – by Leif Brottem (Reuters U.S. – March 8, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

Gold mining in Africa has a bad rap — particularly when it comes to women. Depictions of the trade often focus on poverty, environmental destruction, prostitution and harassment. But in the gold mining belt of Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, the victimization lens does great injustice to the hundreds of women mining alongside men.

Women working in the mines would be the first to say that the work is brutal and uncertain. When I spoke with some of them during a recent visit to Mali, they were clear about the dangers inherent in digging and moving piles of rocks in the hopes of finding a few grams of gold.

But the money they can make gives women financial autonomy and power that would be unimaginable if they remained in their villages to work on their husbands’ farms. Despite its flaws, low-tech artisanal mining empowers them in a way little else does. Continue Reading →

Mining trailblazer to be recognized for managerial prowess – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – October 31, 2017)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Professional engineers honouring Vale’s Samantha Espley in November

Sudbury’s Samantha Espley will soon be placing another award on the mantel.

The general manager of Vale’s mines and mills technical services department will receive the Engineering Medal for Management at the prestigious Ontario Professional Engineers Awards (OPEA) on Nov. 18 in Toronto.

The 70th annual black-tie gala takes place in the North Hall of the Toronto Congress Centre. Espley is a recognized trailblazer for women in the mining industry, serving as one of the few female engineers to hold several senior technical, operational and management positions. Continue Reading →

In Pakistan’s coal rush, some women drivers break cultural barriers – by Syed Raza Hassan (Reuters U.S. – September 29, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

ISLAMKOT, Pakistan (Reuters) – As Pakistan bets on cheap coal in the Thar desert to resolve its energy crisis, a select group of women is eyeing a road out of poverty by snapping up truck-driving jobs that once only went to men.

Such work is seen as life-changing in this dusty southern region bordering India, where sand dunes cover estimated coal reserves of 175 billion tonnes and yellow dumper trucks swarm like bees around Pakistan’s largest open-pit mine.

The imposing 60-tonne trucks initially daunted Gulaban, 25, a housewife and mother of three from Thar’s Hindu community inside the staunchly conservative and mainly-Muslim nation of 208 million people. “At the beginning I was a bit nervous but now it’s normal to drive this dumper,” said Gulaban, clad in a pink saree, a traditional cloth worn by Hindu women across South Asia. Continue Reading →

‘Is it realistic to say it would be 50 per cent? No’: Mine workforce parity not likely in next decade, K+S says – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – September 18, 2017)

http://thestarphoenix.com/

The company behind Saskatchewan’s newest potash mine employs a greater percentage of women than many of its competitors in the traditionally male-dominated industry, but its senior manager of human resources says achieving gender parity in the next decade will be a tall order.

Maryann Deutscher said that while K+S Potash Canada’s (KSPC) superintendent of primary mining is a woman and there are other similar success stories in the company, it will take time for perceptions about traditional and non-traditional roles to fade and a larger pool of women willing to work in engineering and the trades to develop.

“Is it realistic to say it would be 50 per cent? No, it’s probably not realistic because your pool’s just not there yet, right?” Deutscher said Tuesday in an interview before adding: “When you’re thinking 10 years, there’s people that have to be in those trades, in those operator-type roles now … Will it grow? It’d be great to see it even grow by 10 per cent and get up to that 25-30 per cent, for sure.” Continue Reading →

First female general manager at Kalgoorlie Super Pit promises to shake up status quo – by Bettina Arrow , Sam Tomlin and Jarrod Lucas (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – September 6, 2017)

http://www.abc.net.au/

The first woman to run Kalgoorlie’s iconic Super Pit has promised to shake up the status quo at Western Australia’s most famous gold mine. Cecile Thaxter officially began as general manager at Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines on Monday, taking charge of more than 1,100 workers and millions of dollars in gold reserves.

Born in Jamaica and educated at Columbia University in New York, Ms Thaxter worked in investment banking prior to shifting into mining, where she worked in various executive roles for Super Pit co-owner Newmont Mining. As mining companies continue to push for greater female representation in senior roles, she said she was delighted by the accomplishment.

“Not necessarily for the first [woman], but for the second, third and others that come along.” Having most recently managed Newmont’s Phoenix/Lone Tree mine in Nevada, Ms Thaxter comes to Kalgoorlie-Boulder at an interesting juncture in the mine’s life. Continue Reading →