Gender Diversity in the Mining Industry

23 August, 2022

Gender diversity in the Australian mining industry is a current issue. This has been highlighted by the release of the enough is enough report into sexual harassment in Western Australia‘s fly in and fly out mining industry. Coupled with the lack of female speakers at last month’s Noosa mining conference.

The diggers and dealers mining forum in 2022 were a little more progressive on the diversity front with 22% female attendees and eight women on stage.

Some notable female names in the mining industry that spoke at the Diggers and Dealers conference include Fortescue Metals Group CEO Elizabeth Gaines, nickel search managing director Nicole Duncan and Lynas Rare Earths boss Amanda Lacaze.

Still, as Gaines pointed out, out of 69 company presenters, female representation was just 7% though it was the most women Diggers has ever had on stage.

“Change has been hard-fought and slow, and the equal representation that we all hoped we would have achieved by now has not eventuated,” Gaines said during her presentation.

It should also be noted that a number of male speakers broached the topic.Evolution Mining executive chairman Jake Klein and IGO CEO Peter Bradford called out bullying and harassment.

Geoscientist/geochemist Heidi Pass and geologist and Regis director Lynda Burnett studied the board composition of companies presenting at Diggers.

Their research found that of the 69 companies, 21 still had all-male boards.

Many have suggested that the conference only select companies to present in future if they had at least one female director.

Unfortunately, there were still records of lewd behaviour and unacceptable comments at the conference. Kalgoorlie Miner deputy editor Amber Lilley wrote that she was groped and propositioned after hours at Diggers.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA apologised to Lilley and reiterated its commitment to eliminating bad behaviour.

“This type of behaviour has no place in any part of society, including extensions of the work environment,” acting CME CEO Rob Carruthers said.

“CME and its member companies condemn this behaviour in the strongest terms and we again reiterate our commitment to ensuring it is not only eliminated from the workplace, but from all work-related environments.

“We appreciate the work that has been done by organisers of the Diggers & Dealers Mining Forum to ensure it provides a safe, respectful environment for delegates, both at the forum itself and at directly-related events.

“Employers should ensure expectations on employee behaviour is clear prior to participation in events to ensure the safety of employees and others present.

“As an industry we must do better, by continuing to educate our people about what is and isn’t appropriate and by clearly calling out behaviour when it doesn’t meet the required standards.”

The most recent comments only highlight just how far the mining industry is yet to come in relation to gender diversity and the unacceptable behaviour – not only by mining standards, but in society as a whole.