Mackay woman Sandy Newman, who has driven haul trucks and managed multi-million dollar mine projects, was among the winners of Queensland’s 10th annual Resources Awards for Women.
Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynhan and Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman joined Queensland Resources Council president Rob Neale presenting the award at the QRC/Women in Mining and Resources Queensland International Women’s Day breakfast.
Newman, who had a full-time job while studying a Bachelor of Engineering Technology at the University of Southern Queensland, jumped at the chance to do something different in her career: “One day I was designing roads for the department of Main Roads, and the next I was out at Hail Creek Mine, southwest of Mackay, working as an engineer in technical services,” she said.
“After being on site, I was keen to experience working in an operational role. In early 2013 I went into the field as an operator for approximately 18 months and worked on the blast crew, haul and services teams, operating trucks and graders.”
For the past year Newman has been managing the site’s civil infrastructure projects and is in charge of a team of 20 men. Before that she was the mine’s senior drill and blast engineer – the only female in this role at the time.
Newman also encouraged other young women to consider working in the resources sector.
“I am passionate about talking to girls and young women about life and a career in the mining industry,” she said.
“I know how important it is to share my experience and how that can help someone decide whether they want to come and work in the mining industry.”
Newman also raises money for cancer research, having already raised more than $15,000 with the hope of adding another $20,000 to the tally this year.
Janette Hewson, Peabody Energy Australia’s director of services, supply chain management, won the Exceptional Woman in Queensland Resources Award.
The Brisbane resident never imagined working in the resources sector when she left school. She started her career in 1995 after graduating with an arts/law degree, specialising in advising mining and energy clients.
She later joined Peabody and led internal legal and sustainable development teams before taking up her current role, which controls hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending on services for the company’s operations.
Weipa woman Julie Stainkey, crew leader for Rio Tinto Alcan’s East Weipa mine operations won the Outstanding Queensland Tradeswoman/Operator/Technician category.
She started driving the haul trucks in 1998 at a time when very few women sat behind the wheel of these vehicles and has led a crew of 30 mine operators for the past three years.
Stainkey said she knew, from the first time she saw the haul trucks when she moved to Weipa almost 30 years ago, that one day she would drive them.
She is the only woman operational crew leader among a group of 25 and has contributed to the acceptance of women in what was seen as a traditionally male role.
Jacqui McGill, the first woman appointed as an asset president by BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal (BMC), was named Gender Diversity Champion in Queensland Resources at the ceremony.
During her time as general manager and asset president with BMC, the proportion of women in non-traditional roles has rose to 33% and female representation in the company’s executive leadership team is now 57%.
“For too long we have allowed our industry to be male dominated, effectively shutting the door on income equality in our regional areas,” she said.
Meanwhile, Thiess and Wesfarmers Curragh were presented the Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance Award.
Thiess and Wesfarmers Curragh set up their Oothungs (Sisters) in Mining training program for indigenous women in 2013, in partnership with the Salvation Army. It aims to changing lives and empowering indigenous women to determine their own future.
It aimed to maximise employment opportunities for disadvantaged indigenous women in Central Queensland and beyond, and increase the number of women in the male-dominated resources sector.