Held on March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day, the Resources Awards for Women was a celebration and acknowledgement of the contribution women are making in the resources industry.
Co-hosted by Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) and the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), the event not only saw more than a thousand people in attendance but was also livestreamed by thousands more across Queensland mining regions to celebrate not only individual achievements, but the ever increasing participation of women in the industry.
The tide is turning for Queensland’s $94.6 billion resources sector, with more women than ever before working for mining and energy companies.
Women now make up a record 22 per cent of the workforce, up from almost 20 per cent last year.
Speaking at the Resources Awards for Women QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said the industry’s efforts to recruit and retain more female employees are paying off.
“The QRC’s latest gender diversity data for 2021-22 shows women are seizing the opportunity to work in the mining and energy sector with both hands,” he said.
“At a time when every industry in Australia is competing for skilled workers, initiatives to make our sector more flexible, diverse and inclusive are opening new doors for women to join or remain in our workforce.
The QRC report shows there’s been a 10 per cent jump in the number of women working in non-traditional roles in the resources sector over the past financial year.
Another stand-out result is the 18 per cent increase in the number of women now working for mining and energy companies in trade roles.
WIMARQ co-chair Sally Rayner said the awards recognised the important contribution of women to the resources sector and celebrated the industry’s gender diversity champions.
“It’s exciting to see so many more women saying yes to the career opportunities available in resources, whether that’s working in an office, a lab, on a mine site or at a gas field,” she said.
“We’re putting out the welcome mat for more women to bring their skills and experience to our industry because a more diverse workplace is a more positive and productive environment for all employees.”
Exceptional Woman in Queensland Resources
Global Head of Equity Inclusion and Diversity, Rio Tinto
Throughout her 30-year career, Melanie has supported and advocated for women in the resources sector. Most recently, she has been instrumental in the creation of Rio’s Everyday Respect Taskforce, which has not only prompted significant cultural reform across its global operations but also led to changes across the sector which will make the industry safer and more respectful and inclusive. Melanie is passionate about creating an environment where people have equal access to opportunities that help them achieve their full potential.
It’s so great to feel the buzz in the room today and be a part of a really exciting change, which I am hoping will be a change that’s hard for my grandchildren to imagine. I was hesitant when first nominated and I grappled with the fairness of an individual award when so much of what I do is a result of an amazing ecosystem of support. To use a gardening analogy, ‘If the flower blooms it’s because the sun, soil and water have allowed it to become all it can be’ and that is how I feel about the award today,” Melanie Cooper
Exceptional Young Woman in Queensland Resources
Senior Project Engineer, Glencore Qld Metals
After completing her Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Chemical and Environment Engineering, Daisy worked on oil and gas projects in Australia and the UK before moving to Mt Isa to take up the role of Environmental Engineer. She is responsible for implementing enhanced tailings and dam safety management for the site before working her way to her current position. Daisy is an active member of the WIMARQ North-West Qld branch and she is committed to creating a more sustainable resources industry and improving diversity across its workforce.
“It’s a privilege to receive this award and I would like to dedicate this award to the young people – especially women. As a young person I know it’s a crazy world out there with navigating its challenges and opinions, making mining a challenging career choice. But we need you. We need the best and brightest minds to lead the future of the sector. Because the mining industry we know today will look different in the decades to come. Inclusion isn’t about bringing people into a space that already exists, it’s making a new space, a better space, for everyone,” Daisy Ambach
Exceptional Woman in Qld Resources in Technological Innovation
Data Science Lead, BHP
Joana created the algorithm at the heart of BHP’s award winning PASPO product. The product improves blend feed visibility for coal handling and processing plants and provides optimised wash setting recommendations to achieve target product quality specification. Joana emigrated to Australia from Portugal through BHP’s Female Talent Acceleration Program. Overcoming language and cultural barriers, she was employed as BHP’s first ever Machine Learning Specialist.
“I am very honoured. More than a personal award I think it’s an award for everyone in the resources sector who is a woman and works in technology. I want to thank WIMARQ, QRC and the sponsor of this category Mitsubishi. It’s really wonderful how they are recognising women and technology and how we help the resources industry. Most of all I want to thank my team members and my leaders and my mentors as I would not be here without them,” Joana Sousa
Exceptional Tradeswoman/Technician/Operator in Qld Resources
Maintenance Supervisor, Shell QGC
Jacqueline was the only female electrical and instrumentation technician when she started with the company in 2008, and now manages a multi-skilled team, overseeing management and supply chains. She actively supports emerging female leaders and provides guidance to QGC on attracting female candidates to trade roles in remote locations. With the support of Shell’s management team, she also recently reinvigorated the Women’s Network initiative for the Surat Basin.
“This recognition is not only a personal achievement but also a testament to the progress we have made towards achieving greater diversity and inclusivity in the mining industry. I would like to dedicate this award to my fellow finalists and to all the tradeswomen who have persevered through adversity, breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations. You are making a difference and I am proud to be a part of this extraordinary community,” Jacqueline Kelly
Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance in Qld Resources
Rio Tinto Indigenous Leadership Program
Rio Tinto’s Indigenous Leadership program focuses on the attraction, retention, and growth of Indigenous Australians. The program has enabled the company to increase the number of Indigenous leaders from six to 44 since November 2023, including 17 women. The company partnered with the Australian Graduate School at UNSW to deliver the RioInspire program which focused on developing executive-ready Indigenous future leaders who will have an influential role in shaping the future not only for the business and Indigenous Australians, but for all Australians.
“This award really does mean so much. For the past two years we have been working quietly but tirelessly, to elevate and accelerate Indigenous voices across our business. Our mandate was simple. We needed to be better, and we needed more Indigenous voices at our table to help us. This award is in recognition of those who took a chance and came and joined to help us to be a better company. We rise by lifting up others.” Angela Clive, Senior Manager Indigenous Leadership, Rio Tinto
Exceptional Female QMEA Student (Joint Winners)
Good Shepherd Catholic College, Mount Isa
Lianna is well on her way to achieving her dream of becoming a heavy diesel mechanic. She commenced a school-based apprenticeship with Sandvik Mt Isa in June 2022 and completed a Cert II in Engineering at TAFE. This year on top of being a QMEA Ambassador, she is a mentee in the 2023 QRC/WIMARQ GIRLS Mentoring Program.
“I am very proud and humbled to receive this award. Thank you to QMEA for encouraging me to be a part of the resources sector. It is always a pleasure to honour and represent Mt Isa and the fabulous opportunities in the resources sector in my region. This award will give me a platform to encourage and inspire others to strive for their best,” Lianna Woodberry
Redeemer Lutheran College, Biloela
Zoe developed an interest in the resources sector after attending a QMEA STEM Unearthed event in Year 10 and a QMEA Oresome Minds Camp in Mt Isa. She is currently a 2023 QMEA Ambassador and a mentee in the 2023 QRC/WIMARQ GIRLS Mentoring Program.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the QRC, WIMARQ and the QMEA. The range of opportunities and experiences they are able to provide to students like myself is simply outstanding. This award is a major accomplishment for myself, and I think it really confirms you never know what you can achieve or how far you can go simply by putting yourself out there,” Zoe Delroy
Inclusion and Diversity Champion in Queensland Resources
Front End Development Manager, Shell QGC
Larissa is the Front End Development Manager for Bowen Tight Gas Sands and Chair of Shell Australia’s East Chapter Gender Balance Network. She has been a member of Shell’s gender diversity employee resource groups for all 17 years of her professional career and in 2018 she founded Mentoring Circles at QGC, an employee support program that provides a safe environment where people can seek guidance from their peers to develop keys skills to help with career progression.
“Thank you to QRC and WIMARQ for providing a forum and these awards, as it’s really about having allies and supporters coming together and enabling recognition to lift us all up. That allyship is what I am grateful for,” Larissa Walker