10 influential women in mining

1. Gina Rinehart

You either love her or loathe her but there is no doubting Rinehart is a very influential woman in the mining sector.

Head of Hancock Prospecting, a company she inherited from her father, Rinehart is worth an estimated $17 billion.

With a stake in Queensland’s $10 billion dollar Alpha coal project and $7 billion Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia, Rinehart’s continuing success is a tribute to her strong leadership.



2. Vanessa Gunthrie – Managing Director, Toro Energy

VanessaGuthrie.jpgUranium miner Toro Energy’s chief executive Vanessa Guthrie has led the Toro’s Wiluna project.

Wiluna has achieved Western Australia’s first uranium mine approval.

Erica Smyth is also chairman of the company; Steve Burrell from the Australian Institute of Company Directors said the appointment of two women to top ranking roles is a first.

“To our knowledge this is the first time there has been the double of a female chair and a female CEO,” he said.

3. Julie Shuttleworth – General Manager, Barrick Australia

JulieShuttleworth.jpgJulie’s vision is for continued growth of the minerals industry through extending mine life of existing mines, development of new economical projects and increased workforce diversity.

Shuttleworth has over 18 years of experience in the gold and copper mining industry, currently leading a team of 700 people at Granny Smith Gold Mine.

Shuttleworth said women make up about 12 per cent of workers at the mine, well above the industry average.



4. Stefanie Loader – Managing Director Rio Tinto Northparkes mine


Loader heads up Rio Tinto's Northparkes copper and gold operations located near Parkes in the Central West of New South Wales.

A capable and highly intelligent leader, Loader is passionate about the industry and is actively working to improve gender equality through the implementation of flexible rosters and education on site.

Women make up about 17 to 18 per cent of the Northparkes workforce, with Stef Loader at the helm and a number of strong and capable females across all divisions, including OH&S, metallurgy, exploration, environmental management and engineering.

Loader said that this figure could be improved.

“It’s not bad, but it could be better. There are a number of things we’re doing to increase that balance and attract a wider variety of people to work at Northparkes,” Loader said.

5. Dr Nikki Williams – Chief executive officer, Australian Coal Association

nikki-williams.jpgMining 'rockstar' Nikki Williams was appointed to the Australian Coal Association’s top job in 2011 after more than 25 years in the resources sector.

Throughout her career Williams has held senior commercial roles with Shell and Exxon in Africa, Asia and Europe, operating across the coal, oil, gas and chemical industries.



6. Lisa Mirtsopoulos – Dump truck driver, Newmont


After working as a travel agent for more than a decade, Lisa Mirtsopoulos made a career change and found work in the mining industry.

Since making the switch she hasn't looked back, and has gone from strength to strength after starting work as a dump truck operator.

Mirtsopoulos now works at Newmont's Boddington gold mine, and she's developed a small following after launching Dump Truck Discovery, a book telling non-mining types what they need to do to find work in the industry.

The Boddington mine was the winner of Australian Mining’s 2012 Hard Rock Mine of the Year Award, recognised not only for its production and work practices, but also the work culture that it instils on site.

Newmont’s forward thinking strategies aim to achieve gender equality; these have been a key point of difference at the Boddington mine.

Newmont has actively strived to alter the stereotypical masculine culture of a mine site to become more inclusive of women, increasing the number of women working across project, and becoming an integral part of the community.

“If you look at equality in all of its forms you can manufacture it, or the other way is to look at creative ways to create opportunities for everyone, and that’s what our Boddington folk have done.” Brian Watt, Newmont’s director of communications and public affairs said.

In particular, the team at Boddington saw an opportunity to keep trucks moving by inviting women in the local area to come and drive a truck whilst their children are at school.

“Danny Foley, one of our mining superintendents saw an opportunity between crib breaks when the drivers stop driving haul trucks, to keep those trucks moving,” he said.

“He saw the opportunity to invite women in the local area, after they’ve dropped their kids off at school to drive a truck.

“Between dropping the kids off and picking them up in the afternoon there’s five hours of productive time, if you want to, come and drive a truck.”

Creating a work/life balance through steady rosters and providing vital community services has been another key achievement for the Boddington Mine, with the benefit of a long life mine predicted to be more than 30 years, Newmont has implemented facilities in the community after recognising the area had limited or no family focused facilities or respite care.

“We have in Boddington a true gift, it’s going to be a long life mine at least another 30 years of mine life, so that gives us the opportunity to grow a sustainable business and part of that is to live locally and work at the mine,” Watt said.

7. Caris House – Rio Tinto health and safety superintendent of technical assurance

2012 Prospect Young Achiever of the Year award winner

caris-house.jpgAt age 23 Caris House has already achieved so much in her short yet remarkable career, and being recognised as the Prospect Young Achiever of the Year is another notch in this young woman’s belt.

Since beginning her career at Rio Tinto in 2009 as a graduate, House has risen to become the health and safety superintendent of Technical Assurance, with six direct reports.

“I commenced my career with Rio Tinto as an unsure graduate, wondering if Resources was the arena where my Occupational Therapy degree ‘should’ take me. It was not long before I realised that the word ‘should’ needed to be replaced with ‘can’.

“I won’t lie; it took dedicated effort to ‘shine’ in an industry where there are a range of talented and intelligent people. I worked extremely hard in a range of personal and professional traits to demonstrate that I really could, and wanted to be, the youngest superintendent in the business," House said.

8. Paula West – Alcoa senior mechanical engineer for the calcination and shipping port at Alcoa’s Kwinana Refinery

2012 Prospect Female of the Year award winner


West is the Alcoa Women's Network representative for the Kwinana Refinery, helping provide training and development opportunities for all women on site.

In 2012 she took out the prized Australian Mining Female of the Year Award for her tireless work promoting positive female leadership and development within the mining and engineering sectors.

In an industry known for its male dominance, West has actively fought to change these stereotypes, proving to be an advocate and role model for women in the mining industry.

“Getting myself out there and showing the world what we do is very important, women are notoriously bad at self promotion and highlighting our achievements,”  West said.

Working in a heavily male dominated environment where women make up only 9 per cent of the workforce at Kwinana in Western Australia, West believes the development of leadership, diversity and equal opportunity for women will not happen on its own and that an active forum is necessary to bring about positive change.

“The biggest challenge we face as women in this industry are the stereotypes, it’s not in a lot of manager’s cultures to work with women, we have to work a lot harder to prove ourselves more,” West said.

However, West highlighted that the industry is slowly changing, with positive advancements towards achieving stronger work life balances, family policies and flexible working hours. All of this is assisting women in the industry advance.

West’s passion for engineering began early on, as a child she visited mine sites and was fascinated by all the large machinery, a fascination she was lucky enough to transform into a fulfilling career.

After graduating from Curtin University in 2003, West began work at HIsmelt, developing the lubrication schedule for the entire plant, ready for start up. This proved vital for the future reliability of the plant.

9. The ladies from the Mining Family Matters website

logo.pngThe crew at Mining Family Matters aim to empower families in mining, oil and gas.

In doing so they have created an invaluable resource which provides support to the families of FIFO workers.

The Mining FM ladies also formulated the first comprehensive guide which addresses the stresses FIFO working arrangements places on families.

‘Mining Families Rock’ it is a complete guide to creating healthy mining relationships covering everything from child psychology to establishing households that work.

The all women team also delves into the social side of mining, producing quality, well researched content for miners about miners.

10. Ngaire Baker – National marketing communications manager at Schenck Process Australia

Ngaire-Baker.jpgBaker has worked right across the mining industry, lived in remote and isolated mining towns and been heavily involved in challenging and forming Australia’s mining culture.

She has worked on communication strategies and community relations projects for coal, iron ore, copper, bauxite, and gold, in open cut and and underground facilities.




If you would like to nominate someone for this year's Australian Mining Female of the Year award, click here to fill out the online nomination form.

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