Australia is rich with mineral resources that are sourced from most states, but Western Australia contributes the largest amount of total mineral production including coal, lignite, bauxite, copper, gold, iron, manganese, nickel, tin and uranium.

Historically speaking, the mining boom has strongly encouraged migration waves and today sees around 140,000 people in the sector with the highest average salary.

With very few exceptions, including Gina Rinehart, head of Hancock Prospecting and daughter of mining magnate Lang Hancock, mining is still a male-dominated sector as just 16 per cent of the industry’s workers are female.

Of that, 4.5 per cent have technical roles, while less than 3 per cent have managerial roles or jobs involving highly specialised skills.

For more information on the subject, we spoke with Vivian Simonelli, a human resources specialist in the mining industry and a member of the Women in Mining organisation (WIMnet Victoria), and Melissa Say, a geologist and secretary at the same organisation.

Say has worked on the field for years, mostly in the metallurgical sector and today works for the Geological Survey of Victoria.

“I was always fascinated by the world of minerals and I wanted to work outdoors and travel, and this industry offered these opportunities,” she said.

“I found great support when it came to safety in the outback and operating heavy machinery.

“I chose this field because the working conditions, including the contract, were very favourable.” 

Unfortunately, over the years, the geologist realised that women clearly have less access to senior roles, and it was also for this reason that she joined WIMnet Victoria, where she shares her experience together with other women in the same position.

Simonelli explained how large companies are implementing initiatives to recruit more women to try to bridge the disparity between them and the sector in spite of the strong deficit of qualified engineers in Australia (civil, metallurgical, chemical, mechanic, environmental, etc.) for both men and women.

WIMnet Victoria focuses precisely on raising awareness about representation and trying to break down gender stereotypes.

“The sector is improving and my experience is clearly positive,” the geologist concluded.

“There are programs such as ‘Return to Work’ for women who have decided to have a family and who want to come back to work.” 

For more information contact WIMnet Victoria through their Facebook page.