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An agent for change

Advocating for change from within the mining industry

Last updated: 11 October 2023


Jordan, an ecologist in our Closure team, says she’s chosen to work in the front line of the mining industry to make tangible and lasting change for the environment.

Where I grew up, in the Rocky Mountains of the US, people have an almost holy reverence for wilderness, plants, animals, and wild spaces.

Montana is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world, home to both Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. I think living in such a pristine environment has greatly shaped my passion for environmental stewardship and conservation. And now, I’m working as an Environmental Adviser in Rio Tinto’s Closure team.

I know what some of you are thinking: ‘you say you’re an environmentalist, yet you work in mining – explain how that works.’ It’s a question I get asked a lot, especially by my friends and the younger people in my life.

It’s also the question I asked my interviewer when I was going through Rio Tinto’s hiring process. Like a lot of people my age, my career search was more heavily focused on roles that aligned with my values and my desire to affect positive change in the world, than just on earning a paycheck.

When I asked my interviewer how they themselves could reconcile their environmental ideals with working in an industry that by its very nature impacts the environment, I expected to hear some empty corporate platitudes about ‘doing our due environmental diligence’ and ‘progressing in the sustainability space’.

So, I was a little surprised when they responded with, ‘that’s a valid concern’. Then they told me that the best, most effective agents for change in the environmental space keep that concern with them throughout their careers, and one of the best places for people who care about the environment is at the frontline of industry, advocating for changes from within.

Believe it or not, some of the most passionate environmentalists, ecologists, engineers, and sustainability professionals I’ve met have been people in the metals and mining industry, because this is where we can make tangible, positive, and lasting change for the planet.

I’ve been at Rio Tinto for 2.5 years now and I’ve had the opportunity to work across so many areas – environmental tech work, engaging with local communities, governance and assurance, climate risk monitoring, and mine closure and reclamation. There is so much you can do in environment and sustainability, not just in mining but across both the private and public sectors – much more than I even realised when I first started out.

Sustainable business practices, impeccable ESG, and environmental stewardship are no longer fringe ideologies in the global corporate space – they’re the bare minimum, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play my part in that progress.”

About my role in Closure

"In the Closure group, we need to think of the end of a mine’s life right from the beginning.

We’re actively managing over 90 sites in 9 countries. Each of our assets has a closure plan in place before any mining is done, which includes our strategies for environmental reclamation, remediation, and rehabilitation of the closed mine sites. And that’s where I come in – I help manage the governance and assurance of our remediation efforts, ensuring we meet all the environmental standards required for the safe and ecologically responsible management of the site once it closes."

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Jordan, an ecologist in our Closure team, joined the mining industry to make tangible and lasting change

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