The NSW mining awards for women were held in Sydney last night, celebrating the breadth of female talent across the industry.
More than 100 people attended the 2013 NSW Minerals Council WIMIN_NSW gala event were four awards for were on offer.
Minerals council CEO Stephen Galilee told Australian Mining the inaugural event was important in not only celebrating women’s contribution to the industry, but also aimed to attract more women into mining.
“It’s important for us as an industry to come together and celebrate some of the positive things we’re doing,” he said.
“In NSW the figure is around 12 per cent of the total number of women in the workforce so it’s a number we need to improve on.
“We’re making some progress, particularly over the last few years, and this awards ceremony tonight is indictitive of the sort of opportunities we’re seeing women take up in our industry. It’s very positive.”
Outstanding Woman in NSW mining award winner Elisabeth Watts, operations manager at Xstrata Coal’s Glendell Mine said the awards highlighted the positive side of the mining sector.
“It gives people perspective of what you can do and what opportunities are out there,” she told Australian Mining.
“It’s not just about digging holes in the ground, it’s more about the people and the characters that create a great place to work.
“ I interact with people from all walks of life and that huge diversity makes it interesting to go to work each day.”
Watts said women looking to get into the industry needed to figure out what they loved doing and set goals to make it happen.
“If you really want to get into the industry you need to indentify what is that you enjoy doing and then target that aspect of the industry,” she said.
The awards also recognised women who were in the early part of their careers and considered innovators in their fields.
Undergraduate mining engineer student Alix Thornhill won the Aspiring Star award, while auto-electrician apprentice at Anglo-American’s Drayton Mine, Gabrielle Horn, took out the Rising Star award.
Thornhill said there was more than enough room in the industry for women and encouraged other graduates to study the sector.
“Just do it, just get in there and do it and don’t think about limitations or what other people might think,” she said.
The outstanding initiative award went to Rio Tinto Coal Allied’s Pathway 4Girls and Women in Mining Programs which aim to mentor, coach and support women in the mining industry.
Lucy Roberts, manager for sustainable development at Xstrata Coal said diversity in the sector was ‘key to competitive advantage.’
“The ability to draw on a broad talent pool made up of different skill sets, experience , and expertise is absolutely vital given the range of challenges this industry is facing,” Roberts said.
“It’s about unlocking and harnessing the value in a person’s collective skills and experience and ensuring they feel engaged in the organisation.”