Michelle smooths path for females in mining industry

By: Greg Bush

Truck driver Michelle Osborne receives a Resources Award for Women for her role with Macarthur Coal as head trainer and assessor of heavy vehicles

Michelle smooths path for females in mining industry
Michelle smooths path for females in mining industry
The first ever female haul truck driver at a central Queensland mine has been recognised for her contribution to the minerals and energy sector.

Michelle Osborne was today presented with the prestigious Resources Award for Women — Operator Category by Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AO.

The awards are presented annually by the Queensland Resources Council, the peak body for the state’s resources sector, at its International Women’s Day breakfast.

More than 500 people from throughout Queensland’s mining regions attended the breakfast in Brisbane.

QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche said the large attendance, even in the current economic climate, was testament to the industry’s commitment to redress its gender imbalance.

"I’m very proud to say that we are having some success in attracting and retaining more women into our sector in Queensland, with women now making up 10 percent of non-traditional roles—up from 6 percent on 2006 when we began our Women in Resources Action Plan," Roche says.

"Clearly we still have a long way to go, but I’m confident that with role models such as Michelle, more women will be encouraged to take on careers that have traditionally not attracted females in large numbers."

After a successful career as an exercise physiologist and a year living and working in Canada, Michelle was looking for a change.

In April 2006 she was employed by Peter Champion Mining in an entry level position at the site office of Macarthur Coal’s Coppabella coal mine in Central Queensland.

When Macarthur Coal began owner/operator responsibilities in December 2006, Michelle requested a move to operate haul trucks, which was her original goal. Michelle says since then, she’s not looked back.

She is now the head trainer and assessor for heavy vehicles, a member of the mines rescue team and contact officer where she acts as mediator when issues between employees arise.

Michelle was the first female employed by Macarthur Coal in the production department, was the first and remains the only female trainer/assessor employed by Macarthur Coal, and is one of only three women in the coal industry’s mines rescue teams.

"I believe I show my female colleagues that we can be active, well respected participants in all facets of the mining industry, not merely truck drivers," Michelle says.

"With strong female role models leading the way and a supportive environment, women will continue to strive ahead in the resources industry."

The Overall award was one by Cement Australia’s East End Mine Manager Sandra Collins (Mount Larcom near Gladstone).

Runners up were Brisbane-based Emma Yeoman, Senior Completions Engineer with Santos Ltd and Jennifer Mackenzie, Manager Coal Handling and Preparation Plant BMA Saraji Mine in Central Queensland.

Other category winners were: Operator/Trade, Julie Griffin Electrical Maintenance Planner BMA Crinum Mine Central Queensland; Encouragement Award, Amber Bates; Junior category winner, Elizabeth Bridgeman Moranbah State High School; runner up, Rebecca Kerr Moranbah State High School.

The Best Company Initiative went to Rio Tinto Clermont Mine, while Thiess Ltd and Cement Australia were listed as Highly Commended.

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