Archive | Women in Mining

Lucara’s Eira Thomas has a knack for finding huge diamond reserves. Now she want to disrupt the industry – by Alanna Mithell (Globe and Mail/ROB Magazine – March 27, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

‘What started out as a treasure hunt is now much more about how we make a lasting contribution to the communities we are working with,’ the CEO and geologist says

Eira Thomas is on the run. The annual results for her company, Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corp., are coming out in 11 days, and as its co-founder and chief executive, she is prepping for a round of board meetings and earnings presentations, including dashes to both Florida and Toronto for mining conferences.

Before that, she’s heading from her home in England to Morocco on a half-term school break with her two daughters. Plus, she’s experiencing such wretched technical glitches that she missed a Skype interview yesterday and had to rebook. Today, she apologetically comes on 24 minutes late, something so uncharacteristic that her personal assistant, who is in Zurich, has begun to worry. Life is a little frenetic, Thomas confesses.

Yet, when I ask her why diamonds hold such an allure, all of a sudden, the busy executive life seems to vanish. She savours her answer—and when it comes, it’s unexpected. Yes, there’s the thrill of the hunt. But she is a geologist, and so within the diamond she also reads the violent secrets of the inner Earth that created it billions of years ago, when the planet was much younger. Continue Reading →

THE DRIFT 2020: Employment program prepares Indigenous women for workforce – by Colleen Romaniuk (Northern Ontario Business – February 28, 2020)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Traditional employment programs focus a lot of time and resources on technical training and job search skills. While those things are integral to getting women into the workforce in non-traditional roles, sometimes it’s not enough.

Aboriginal Women in Mining (AWIM), a program run by the Temiskaming Native Women’s Support Group in Kirkland Lake, has developed a more holistic approach. Their curriculum, which teaches culture, confidence, and competence, has been eight years in the making.

Developed in 2011 by Ann Batisse, an Indigenous mentor and founder of the Native Women’s Support Group, the program trains Indigenous women to enter the workforce. AWIM teaches traditional knowledge and values and nurtures industry partnerships to encourage success. Continue Reading →

Driving trucks, blasting rocks – Women break the mold at Burkina Faso gold mines – by Henry Wilkins (Reuters U.S. – March 4, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

HOUNDE, Burkina Faso (Reuters) – Tene Konate takes pride in telling incredulous relatives about her job driving a 72-tonne dump truck around the vast open pit at the Hounde gold mine in western Burkina Faso.

The 42-year-old single mother is one of 111 women at the mine, many trained for jobs that would more traditionally be done by men in West Africa: hauling rubble, blasting rocks, or driving heavy vehicles.

Konate and her female colleagues are the beneficiaries of a global push by mining companies to bring more women into an industry that has lagged behind others in tackling gender imbalances. They remain firmly in the minority however: women make up just 11% of the workforce at Hounde, which is run by Canada’s Endeavour Mining. Continue Reading →

THE WOMAN SHAKING UP THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY – by Ed Caesar (The New Yorker Magazine – January 27, 2020)

https://www.newyorker.com/

Eira Thomas’s company has used radical new methods to find some of the biggest uncut gems in history.

At the Karowe diamond mine, in Botswana, the most highly secured section of the compound is known as the Red Zone. This is where the gems are sorted. To enter, you must walk, alone, through a sequence of thick doors activated by fingerprint scans. Inside, there are strict rules. You cannot touch another human being. Everyone must wear a blue, pocketless smock. Phones are not allowed.

In September, when I visited Karowe, I was given special dispensation to carry a notebook and a pen into the Red Zone. I was told that if I dropped my things I should bend down slowly to retrieve them, then stand up and show the recovered items to the nearest camera. On leaving the Red Zone, everyone, including chief executives, is strip-searched.

Nobody in the Red Zone ever touches a diamond with a naked hand. There are two sorting rooms, in which workers organize the mine’s produce by size and shape, using gloves affixed to sealed and glass-fronted cabinets.  Continue Reading →

A tectonic shift 45 years in the making: A fond farewell as retirement looms – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – October 1, 2019)

http://www.canadianminingjournal.com/

It is time for me to retire. I was 25 when CMJ hired me; now I am turning 70 on Nov. 4, and I have chosen the end of that month to call a halt. Forty-five years seems like a good run as an observer of an industry I am passionate about and that has become a large part of my life. While retirement is a tectonic shift for me, I’m sure our geologist friends won’t be offering new theories about continental drift.

The first mine I visited was Sidbec Normines iron mine near Fermont, Que. It has come and gone, and iron ore production is coming back to that corner of the world. The first time I went to Saskatchewan I was underground at the Main mine in Flin Flon, Man. The first gold mine I visited was the old McIntyre mine in Schumacher, Ont.… I’m dating myself.

Some of our loyal readers probably weren’t born when I took up the pen – later to be computer. For those old enough to remember back to the mid-’70s, they will recall that women in mining were a novelty. Continue Reading →

INCO trailblazer and champion of women’s rights tells her story in new memoir – by Colleen Romaniuk (Northern Ontario Business – October 17, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Cathy Mulroy has always understood that well-behaved women seldom make history. In 1974, after becoming one of the first women hired in a non-traditional role at INCO since the Second World War, the Sudbury native, who stood at 5 feet 1 inch and weighed 105 pounds, was quickly labelled a troublemaker.

As a 19-year-old mother stuck in a toxic marriage, Mulroy signed up to work in the copper refinery in the anode department casting molten metal copper with the hope of earning enough to become financially independent.

She was often found guilty for the crime of sticking up for herself, and in Mulroy’s own words, she “never put up with crap.” Years later, after Mulroy retired, she decided to write a book about her experience using all the material she accumulated over the years. Mulroy documented everything, writing on cigarette packs, paper towels, and in diaries, collecting newspaper clippings, and more. Continue Reading →

A woman’s view of Inco – by Mia Jensen (Sudbury Star – June 29, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

In 1974, Inco started hiring women for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Cathy Mulroy, then 19, was the second woman in line for a job. Now, she’s written a book about her experiences.

Mulroy worked on the anode casting wheel in the copper refinery. Her job was to empty the molten metal arriving in hot cars from the smelter, into the furnace. It was hot, grimy work, but for Mulroy, the labour wasn’t the difficult part of her experience.

“Over the years, I was kind of a person who believed in people’s rights,” she says. “I was never quiet. So right off the bat, I started getting into trouble.” Continue Reading →

The US head of the world’s largest diamond miner says its sustainability plan isn’t just good for the planet, it’s the future of its business – by Richard Feloni (Business Insider – May 2019)

https://www.businessinsider.com/

Despite its position as the world’s largest diamond miner by volume, Alrosa is not a well-known name in the United States, the world’s largest diamond market. Rebecca Foerster, head of the company’s North American division, is on a mission to change that — and she says Alrosa’s sustainability initatives are key.

“Alrosa, as a pure-play mined diamond company, is one of the few companies that can, without question, guarantee the chain of custody and the provenance of the diamonds that they mine,” Foerster told Business Insider.

Alrosa is a publicly traded company whose majority shareholders are Russia’s federal and regional governments, but Foerster said that she’s not concerned with politics when it comes to the brand, given that the company’s mines in Siberia are among the world’s most sustainable. Continue Reading →

‘Require, Not Ask’ for Women in Mining, Urges Ex-Anglo Chief – by Krystal Chia (Bloomberg News – May 9, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Mining is not only for men. Companies have to do more to push gender diversity, according to Cynthia Carroll, former chief executive officer of Anglo American Plc.

“Companies should require, not ask that executives promote, recruit and include women,” Carroll said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Singapore. Heading the miner from 2007 to 2013, Carroll was Anglo American’s first female chief executive, and now sits on the boards of a few companies, including Hitachi Ltd.

Mining remains male-dominated. In a survey of 30 companies, the Responsible Mining Foundation found “little or no evidence of efforts” to strengthen the gender balance of their leadership and governance teams. Continue Reading →

Canadian Ingenuity: Kate Rice canoed, hunted and prospected – by Susanna McLeod (Kingston Whig Standard – May 8, 2019)

https://www.thewhig.com/

Wherever she went, Kate Rice always had a particular item with her. It wasn’t a locket, it wasn’t a wallet, nor medication. The item was something every prospector girl needed when working by herself in the wilderness. It was a rifle.

Kathleen (Kate) Creighton Starr Rice, born Dec. 22, 1882, thrived in the outdoors. Her love began with canoeing, camping and hunting trips with her father, Henry Lincoln Rice. While her mother read bedtime fairy tales to her young daughter, Kate’s father ignited the child’s imagination with tales of adventure and nature.

Fine-featured, pretty and nearly six feet tall, Kate Rice was regarded by friends and family as eccentric and independent, with a stern “don’t mess with me” personality. The family living in St. Mary’s in southwestern Ontario was upper middle class. Henry Rice operated St. Mary’s Milling Company, the firm inherited by his wife, Charlotte Carter. Continue Reading →

ROB MAGAZINE: How Lundin CEO Marie Inkster plans to change mining’s bad reputation – by Trevor Cole (Globe and Mail – April 23, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Inkster opens up about her reluctance to take the top job and how she hopes to change the industry’s reputation

Based on the career of Marie Inkster, someone looking for adventure in business might want to consider accounting. Once a CA with Deloitte Canada, Inkster went to work for Geac Computer Corp. in the late 1990s.

When her boss left for Nortel, Inkster smartly decided not to join her. Instead, in 2002, she found herself in the three-person office of LionOre, being lured into a life in mining. Soon she was travelling the world. By 2009 she was CFO at Lundin Mining, a rising mid-tier miner run by the audacious Lukas Lundin, and walking through the Congolese jungle.

She orchestrated Lundin’s 2014 acquisition of the Candelaria Copper Mining Complex in Chile, raising $2.2 billion and nearly doubling the size of the company. In October of last year, Inkster replaced Paul Conibear as CEO. Continue Reading →

The Women Emerald Miners of Colombia – by Laura Millan (Bloomberg News – April 13, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Dubai-based Fura Gems is hiring dozens of women to help bring De Beers-like discipline to a once violent and wild industry.

Nubia Galeano slips the short-handled pick into her left rubber boot and turns on her headlamp as she enters a steaming, cramped tunnel, one of thousands that crisscross the vast Coscuez emerald mine. The corridor narrows, and Galeano, already dripping in sweat, is soon crawling on all fours.

When she reaches a space so tight her small body barely fits, she pulls out her pick and starts digging. The 45-year-old, single mother of two fills her sack with up to 40 pounds at once and crawls backward until she can stand back up and retrace her steps to the surface.

Outside, she washes the load in a small stream, indifferent to the swarming bugs and the buzz of dozens of other miners around her. Adept at spotting the tiniest speck of green, Galeano quickly realizes she’s come up empty-handed. Continue Reading →

Diamonds in the Rough: Meet Canada’s all-female mine rescue team – by Len Gillis (Sudbury Northern Life – April 12, 2019)

https://www.sudbury.com/

It was what happened in Sudbury three years ago that inspired a group of women to do something that had made them the darlings of the mine rescue world. Mine rescuer Kari Lentowicz of Saskatchewan was in Sudbury this week and remembered it well.

“Back in 2016 we were here in Sudbury at the International Mines Rescue Competition,” said Lentowicz on Wednesday when she spoke at the Workplace Safety North Mining Health and Safety conference.

“In that competition there were 189 competitors. Five were women. That was it.” That’s what prompted her to sit down with a group of friends and other mine rescue women to talk about creating their own all-female team of certified mine rescuers, something Lentowicz had been thinking about for several years. Continue Reading →

THE DRIFT: Miner and designer balances dual roles: Sudbury’s Alicia Woods finds passion in mining industry – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – April 5, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

When Alicia Woods was vying to enter the mining industry, she knew that name recognition would at least get her foot in the door, but it would take hard work to prove she deserved to be there.

Woods is the daughter of Paul Marcotte who, along with his brothers and father, founded Sudbury-based Marcotte Mining Machinery Services in 1979, designing and manufacturing underground utility vehicles.

As a kid, Woods loved hanging around her dad in the shop, and it was her long-time dream to one day work alongside him in the industry. “He never made me feel like it wasn’t an industry for me,” she said. “I never once felt that it wasn’t for girls.” Continue Reading →

The Lady Muckers take on the 41st Annual International Collegiate Mining Competition – by Jennifer Sande (Nevada Today – March 27, 2019)

https://www.unr.edu/

The Mackay Muckers had enough female recruits for both men’s and a women’s teams for the first time in five years.

When asked if she could think of a more proper term to describe her female team members other than “badass”, Claire Roberts, Captain of the Lady Muckers – the Mackay Muckers women’s team, thought for a minute before answering. “Kickass? That’s not much better, is it?” Roberts asked.

The “kickass” Lady Muckers competed on Friday, March 22nd in the 41st Annual International Collegiate Mining Competition in Virginia City alongside teams from all over the country and the world.

The teams compete in old-school mining techniques such as single jack hand steel (hammering a steel chisel into concrete by hand), jackleg drilling, hand mucking (shoveling “muck” or dirt into a mine cart and running it down and back a length of track), gold panning, track stand (quickly assembling an un-assembling a rail-cart track), and swede saw (sawing through a 4×4″ block of wood). Continue Reading →