Mining a Path for Women

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NSW took home two out of five awards at the 2023 Women in Resources National Awards with Dr Bianca Newcombe winning Exceptional Woman and Lucy McClean winning Inclusion and Diversity Champion.

Bianca, Principal Metallurgist and owner of OptiFroth Solutions, won the Exceptional Woman Award for her tenacity to follow her passion and remain connected with industry, from taking up an industry-based PhD, to developing a niche business – along the way significantly contributing to the growth and participation of women in the sector.

Lucy won the Inclusion and Diversity Champion Award for her work as Chair of WIMnet NSW, the key network to support, nurture, connect, recognise and empower women in the NSW resources sector. Lucy’s tenure as Chair has seen a 43 per cent increase in mentee/mentor participation as well as an increase in industry sponsorship. Lucy has also volunteered as a WIMnet NSW mentor since 2017.

It’s fantastic to see Bianca and Lucy recognised for their accomplishments, as well as all the other NSW Women in Mining finalists who represented our state at the national awards.

There are so many women who are making a contribution across a variety of roles. Metallurgists, underground mining supervisors, research scientists, engineers, community relations officers, environmental chemists, data scientists, trade electricians, maintenance specialists and many more.

While the number of women in the industry is increasing, we still have a long way to go. These awards were created to not only recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in the industry but to also encourage more women into the industry and to inspire young girls about what is possible.  

The awards can also be a stepping stone for so much more. Recently we caught up with Renata Roberts, The Bloomfield Group’s Chief Corporate Services Officer who shared how entering the NSW Women in Mining Awards started her on a journey that has taken her places she could never have imagined.

Back in 2020, Renata won the Exceptional Woman in NSW Mining Award for her advocacy for mental health and inclusion. Since then, Renata has become a member of the executive team for the NSW Women in Mining Network and Co-Lead for the WIMNet Hunter Committee. She has developed a website that is a platform to call people to action on diversity and inclusion in workplaces called, “They Who Share Their Stories”. She has authored a series of children’s books designed to strengthen the leaders of today, while building the leaders of tomorrow titled, “Join Jackson’s Journey”. Plus, she’s had plenty more wins under her belt including going on to win the “Exceptional Woman” Award at the 2020 Women in Resources National Awards and being named one of the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining in 2022. Her passion for promoting inclusion and mental health has gone further than she could ever dream of all thanks to that first award entry.

But what might surprise you to learn is that Renata’s coworkers were the ones that put her name forward and Renata was very reluctant to be nominated.

At the recent Hunter Women in Mining Leadership Day organised by the Hunter WIMnet Committee that Renata co-leads with Damien Butler of the Bloomfield Group, Renata spoke to the 122 attendees about her initial reluctance and encouraged the crowd to enter the NSW Women in Mining Awards.

“Originally, I didn’t want to enter,” said Renata. “I looked at previous winners and felt there was no way I should bother. I guess I was experiencing imposter syndrome which I’ve now learnt is very common. Even up to that very last minute I thought I can’t do this. If it wasn’t for my team’s belief in me, I would never have been nominated.

“But I am so glad they did! I’m still amazed today at the opportunities that continue to come from winning the award in terms of advocating on issues that are important for our industry and broader society.”

Renata’s advice for anyone thinking of entering the 2024 awards is to go for it.

“Don’t think you can’t put a nomination in. Definitely put yourself forward. It will be the beginning of a journey that opens you to so many opportunities and great experiences. And your story may fuel inspiration in someone else taking their own personal or professional journey that they might not have otherwise taken.”

The NSW Women in Mining Awards program has six awards, including for those in their early-stage career. Great work deserves to be recognised at all levels, so what are you waiting for – enter now!

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