Meet 'Burkie' from Xtrata in Queensland (she also answers to Beryl)
For the past six years, 'Burkie' has been working with Xstrata at Ernest Henry Mining in Cloncurry, Queensland. She's just completed training on the HS002 Hydraulic Shovel – a first for a female operator at this particular mine site. Here, Burkie reveals all about life in the mining industry…
How did you first get involved in mining? By reading an article in the Sunday Mail stating that female operators were more gentle on the equipment than the men. That was my inspiration! I forwarded my resume to the HR Dept at Ernest Henry Mining in Cloncurry Qld in 2004 and I was accepted & have been there ever since.
Are you residential or FIFO? FIFO out of Brisbane, but live in Clifton which is halfway between Toowoomba & Warwick, a further two hours' drive from the Brisbane airport.
Did you need to study anything in particular to get the job? The only requirement was a current driver's licence & a go-getter attitude.
Have you done any additional courses as part of your work? Only internal courses with the company which are the standard CPR, First Aid, PASS Champion, EEO (Equal Employment Officer). Then for the machines you have to partake in 100 hours of practical training on site.
Why does the industry work for you? The flexibility of the roster (8 days on, 6 days off) ... the opportunities within the industry to further your capabilities ... the outdoors work ... the enormity of such a variety of machines available to all personnel ... and the people with whom I work with make the industry enjoyable.
What do you love/hate about it? Travelling is my pet hate, but that is my choice due to family committments in the Clifton/Warwick area. I totally love the work because of the variety of machines I operate (ie dumptrucks, water carts, graders, loaders & the Hydraulic Shovel). As I mentioned in the last question, the people make the difference - lifelong friendships & comraderie are forged & no matter which mine you go to there is always someone you know.
Does your gender affect the way you're treated in the industry? Not necessarily, as long as you show initiative & the willingness to have a go.
Would you recommend the industry to other women? Absolutely! The possibilities are endless.
Can you give any tips about moving up the industry ladder? By understanding that to achieve anything requires faith & belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination & dedication.
Do you have any other advice for women keen to work in mining? Keep on keeping on ... scour the mining sites online ... forward your resumes ... register with recruiting agencies & if you have contacts/friends/family already in the mining industry, ask them to submit your details with the company.
It's estimated that women account for less than 20 per cent of Australia's mining workforce, compared with around 40 per cent of the workforce in general. But considering mining is generally thought of as a pretty 'blokey' kind of industry, that's not such a bad figure.
In our 'women in mining' section, MiningFM aims is to celebrate women at coalface. We'd love to hear your story: how you entered the industry, why it works for you and any advice you can offer to other women keen to be a part of Australia's booming mining industry. Tell us about it!
Meet other great women in mining: