Harry Bruce cartoon Anglo female miners
Harry Bruce cartoon Anglo female miners Harry Bruce

Mining giant works around law to target female workers

IN A coup for women in the resource sector, a mining giant has exempted themselves from anti-discrimination laws so they can advertise for girl power.

Anglo American went in to bat against the Anti-Discrimination Act, which doesn't allow companies to advertise for specific genders, to develop a female-only underground operations trainee program at their Moranbah North site.

Rebecca Blines from Anglo American's Moranbah North Ashlea O'Reilly, Mining Engineer at Anglo American's Grasstree Mine, Geotechnical Engineer.  Participating in the Queensland Mines Rescue Service Memorial Cup competition at Anglo American's Grasstree Mine.
Rebecca Blines from Anglo American's Moranbah North Ashlea O'Reilly, Mining Engineer at Anglo American's Grasstree Mine, Geotechnical Engineer. Participating in the Queensland Mines Rescue Service Memorial Cup competition at Anglo American's Grasstree Mine.

The Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, and Fair Work Commission have ticked off on the decision, stating "an exemption to allow targeted recruitment of females in underground mining may be reasonable and appropriate".

Anglo's statement to the commissions said that workforces at mine sites are typically male. Women at the Moranbah North site make up two per cent of the staff.

"Under legislation, women were not allowed underground until 1980s; the original laws are set to ensure no gender discrimination when it comes to hiring," their submission reads.

"One of the aims of the strategy will be to encourage and facilitate the entry into the business, of groups of people who have historically been poorly represented in the business, including, but not limited to, women."

The commissions have acknowledged the minimal number of female miners and believes that the exemption will not discriminate against males looking to enter the resource sector.

Glen Britton, executive head of operations at Anglo America's metallurgical coal business said the exemption is a crucial step towards creating a more inclusive environment for women.

"The reality is that today there are still very few women working in underground coal mines. Traditional ways of recruiting women are simply not working and so we recognised we needed to do something different," he said.

While there are currently two female trainees and four female apprentices (one school-based) working at Anglo American's Moranbah North mine, the company will be offering a further eight traineeships, with recruitment to begin in July.

"Through the design of this program it has also been an opportunity to work with our existing female operational employees and understand more about the barriers and challenges they have experienced," Mr Britton said.

"As we continue to innovate and find ways to continue to reduce manual operations, this will change the way we work, and there should be no reason why women can't do any of the roles at our underground mines," Mr Britton said.

 

Rebecca Blines from Anglo American's Moranbah North Ashlea O'Reilly, Mining Engineer at Anglo American's Grasstree Mine, Geotechnical Engineer.  Participating in the Queensland Mines Rescue Service Memorial Cup competition at Anglo American's Grasstree Mine.
Rebecca Blines from Anglo American's Moranbah North Ashlea O'Reilly, Mining Engineer at Anglo American's Grasstree Mine, Geotechnical Engineer. Participating in the Queensland Mines Rescue Service Memorial Cup competition at Anglo American's Grasstree Mine.

Geotechnical engineer, Rebecca Blines joined Anglo American in 2013 and is currently studying to gain her deputy's underground ticket to enable her to manage underground coal operations encourages more women to get involved in the resource sector.

"While a career in mining might seem daunting for women at first, it's far from it," she said.

"I encourage any women who want a challenging and interesting career to apply for these new traineeship roles here at Moranbah North.

"In my five years in the industry I've seen a big shift in the numbers of women in the industry and attitudes towards women, however we're still a minority.

"Anglo American have been incredibly supportive of me every step of the way and I'm really fortunate to have many career opportunities.

"Working underground in the mine has now become a core part of what I do and I love working with our crews across a range of operational activities."



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