Pilbara women impress in resource awards finals

Alicia PereraPilbara News
BHP processing production supervisor Dhakshi Weerawardena is a finalist for the CME Women in Resources Awards.
Camera IconBHP processing production supervisor Dhakshi Weerawardena is a finalist for the CME Women in Resources Awards. Credit: CME

A Roebourne-raised drill and blast operator, a North West Shelf project petroleum engineer and an electrician based in the remote East Pilbara are among the WA female resource workers named as finalists for the 2018 Women in Resources Awards.

At least five employees hailing from the Pilbara are up for the Chamber of Minerals and Energy’s annual awards, now in their ninth year, with the list of finalists across five categories announced last week.

Rio Tinto mine technical services manager Rio Tinto Sharron Sutton, who split her working time across four Rio Tinto mines sites in the Pilbara until taking an international assignment in Canada a few months ago, is one of three finalists in the prestigious Women in Resources Champion category.

Her fellow Rio employee Lynn Olssen, who used to work at Telfer, is also up for the champion award.

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Pilbara female resource workers had a strong showing in the outstanding young women in resources category, with BHP processing production supervisor Dhakshi Weerawardena and Chevron petroleum engineer Martha Hackshaw making up two of the three nominations.

The finalist pool for outstanding operator, technician or tradeswoman also includes two Pilbara employees in Fortescue Metals Group drill and blast operator Megan Lockyer, who lives in the Karratha area, and BHP apprentice electrician Nicole O’Keefe, based at Jimblebar Mine.

Ms Sutton, who started in the industry in 1988, said opportunities for women to work in the WA resources sector had greatly improved since then as employment became more flexible and perspectives changed.

“I’m a devoted advocate for encouraging females into the mining sector,” she said.

“STEM-based careers are a great choice and the mining industry isn’t the rough and tumble world it can be portrayed to be.”

“I’m seeing many young women seize the opportunities available and develop and grow with good networks and guiding mentors.”

CME chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said the quality of the 85 nominees for this year’s awards had been “extremely high”.

“There are many women and men in the sector who work extraordinarily hard to champion gender diversity in their workplace as a means to driving better performance and productivity, so it is only fitting that their efforts are recognised,” he said.

Winners will be announced at a breakfast presentation at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on March 9.

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