Academics take centre stage at NSW Women in Mining Awards

The winners of the 2023 NSW Women in Mining Awards have been announced, with OptiFroth Solutions’ Bianca Newcombe taking home the Exceptional Woman in NSW Mining award.

Newcombe completed her PhD in mineral processing in 2014 and now works as owner and principal metallurgist of OptiFroth Solutions.

OptiFroth Solutions specialises in mineral process engineering utilising a froth flotation system for separating metals like copper, zinc, silver, nickel and gold from mined material.

Newcombe has also published more than 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals and at conferences since 2009.

“Bianca’s drive to apply her scientific expertise to the mining sector is an inspiration to young women exploring their career options, and illustrates the many opportunities that exist for women in our industry,” NSW Mining chief executive officer Stephen Galilee said.

Whitehaven Coal’s Hollie Sampson was awarded the 2023 NSW Exceptional Young Woman in Mining award.

Sampson started her career in 2020 as Whitehaven’s Aboriginal community relations officer and has since helped to establish the Maules Creek Indigenous Mentoring Program and Whitehaven’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) endorsement with Reconciliation Australia in 2021.

The 2023 Technological Innovation award was presented to Joanne Henry from WesTrac for the development and implementation of WesTrac’s autonomous drilling technology project while Lucy McClean from the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies took home the 2023 Inclusion and Diversity Champion award.

McClean was acknowledged for her work as chair of Women in Mining NSW Network and her contribution to a 43 per cent increase in mentee–mentor participation.

The 2023 Outstanding Tradeswoman, Operator or Technician award was given to Julie Smith from Evolution Mining. Smith has been a pioneer and role model for women seeking a career in mining.

Galilee congratulated all of the winners and finalists.

“There are many incredible women in our NSW mining industry and these Awards celebrate their achievements in a range of fields,” he said.

“From technology and innovation to engineering and trades, as well as in operational roles and running businesses, our award winners highlight the opportunities for women in mining, and showcase the career paths available in our sector.

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