Resourceful women take out awards

BMA’S coal operations in Queensland have produced some outstanding women in the resources sector, who scooped the pool in this year’s QRC Resources Awards for Women.

Lou Caruana
Resourceful women take out awards

Juanita Grillmeier, a training and development adviser at Broadmeadow mine, was a runner-up in the trade category; Jan Simpson, an operator at Norwich Park coal mine, took out the operator award; and Jennifer Mackenzie, a mining manager for Norwich Park, tied for the overall Resources Award for Women.

BMA was also a runner-up for the best company innovation with the employment of a dedicated senior women’s adviser.

The three BMA prize-getters are among the growing band of women recognised by the Queensland Resources Council for their contribution to the resources industry in a time of skills shortage, with a ceremony today presided over by state Minister for Women Karen Struthers.

With women making up only 14% of QRC members’ employees and a skills shortage looming, the industry needs to continue to pull out all stops to attract and retain women in the sector, QRC chief executive Michael Roche said.

“Women make up only about 1 per cent of tradespeople in Queensland’s resources sector, and with a nationwide shortage, the industry needs to pull out all stops to encourage women into these roles,” he said.

There is now a growing critical mass of women at BMA – and in the industry generally – who are providing role models for women seeking a career in coal mining and the broader resources sector.

Moranbah local Juanita Grillmeier, who began her career as an apprentice electrical fitter/mechanic at Oaky Creek Coal, is currently adviser – training and development at Broadmeadow, where she manages 250 employees and a similar number of contractors.

Before that, she was the first female apprentice master at the Goonyella Riverside mine, in charge of 60 apprentices and operation trainees.

“The industry is dynamic and continues to evolve, with exciting job opportunities in mining available in countries all over the world,” Grillmeier said.

For this year’s overall Resources Award for Women, the judges couldn’t separate Jennifer Mackenzie and Susan Denk, chief operating officer for Brisbane-based Unidel Group.

Mackenzie was the first woman to be appointed by BMA to the role of mining manager when she accepted the role at Norwich Park.

It was also the first time a person from a processing background had been appointed as a mining manager within BMA.

In 2008, Mackenzie was the first woman to be appointed coal handling and preparation plant manager by the company. She is only the second woman to have held an operational management position at BMA.

Mackenzie, a metallurgical engineer, is one of only 20 people globally to have been accepted last year into BMA’s accelerated leadership development program.

She is also involved in a myriad of community events around Dysart, particularly in women’s health and in mentoring young women. Mackenzie was the founder of BMA’s operational working women’s group, which focuses on education programs and initiatives for girls and professional development for women.

“As a woman in my current position, I have the ability to not only positively influence those coming after me, but also set the standard by which all in the industry should expect professional women to conduct themselves,” she said.

“I am very aware of my responsibility to myself, those in my team, those who believe in me and support me every day and those who have provided me with some very special opportunities in my career.”

From secretary to butcher, electrician’s assistant and aviation security screener, Jan Simpson is now making her mark as a production operator in the resources sector.

She began driving heavy equipment at Norwich Park in 2003 and later became the mine’s first female open cut examiner.

Simpson,who is also an assistant shotfirer, says mine safety has become her passion.

“No hazard is uncontrollable and I can make a difference to create a safe working environment in a high-risk industry,” she said.

Simpson is also involved in supporting BMA’s operational women’s working group and encouraging women into the resources sector.

“I hope to inspire other women from coal operations that you have a choice, you don’t just have to be a truck driver.

“The mining industry gives you the opportunities to strive for a greater you.”

She has also passed the coal mining law exam, which qualifies her to be a site senior executive. She continues to study externally through Charles Darwin University.

Other award recipients were:

Trade category


Kerry Brisbane, electrical team leader, Xstrata Skills Centre Mount Isa


Juanita Grillmeier, HR adviser – training and development, BMA Broadmeadow

Operator category


Jan Simpson, open cut examiner/assistant shotfirer, BMA Norwich Park


Kylie Kerr, leading hand/supervisor, Peak Downs mine, Leighton Contractors

Highly Commended

Patricia Rankin, production trainee, Anglo American Metallurgical Coal, Dawson mine

Louise Burridge, washplant operator, BMA Gregory mine

Junior category (open to girls in Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy schools)


Jessica Murphy, Emerald State High School

Highly Commended

Cassie Dai, Wavell State High School

Best Company Initiative category


Anglo American Metallurgical Coal, Foxleigh mine, Hot Seat Crew


Thiess Tarong coal project, local community training to operate haul trucks

Highly Commended

BMA, employment of senior women’s adviser


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