International Women’s Day

Be yourself and thrive

Eight talented women share their experiences in the mining industry

Last updated: 3 April 2021


This International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate every woman across our business – from Australia to Madagascar, and beyond.

Here are the stories some of them tell: 

International Women’s Day - Bakoly


Geologist, QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), Madagascar
Every woman working in a mining company is the strength of that company. I supervise all the drilling activities at QMM, which allows us to understand the orebody we’re working with and make sure we meet our production targets. As a geologist, I always dreamed about working in a big mining company. I joined QMM three years ago, and I’m proud to be part of the Rio family."


Manager Communities and Corporate Relations, Richards Bay Minerals, South Africa

Mining was never on my radar and it was quite an adjustment – I went from wearing corporate attire and high heels every day to personal protective equipment like steel cap boots and safety glasses. I also had to adapt to an environment that attaches so much importance on safety. I had to do away with many unsafe habits! The industry requires you to adapt, be resilient and think outside the box. It’s been a very fulfilling three and a half years – and I’m so glad I joined the industry."

International Women’s Day - Zanele
International Women’s Day - Uuganbayar


Environmental Superintendent, Oyu Tolgoi, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Our team’s role is to manage environmental monitoring and protection. We make sure that the company is complying with all relevant environmental requirements.  I am passionate about environmental protection and sustainability, and so I did my master’s thesis on mine land reclamation. Then when I graduated, I joined Oyu Tolgoi.


I really like my job. And I am very proud that the company is taking climate change seriously and working towards reducing our carbon emissions. If your passion and vision aligns with the company’s vision, then I say go for it!"


Fitter and Turner, Boyne Smelters Limited (BSL), Gladstone, Queensland, Australia

When I first joined BSL there weren’t a lot of ladies here. So I started an informal lunch group so we could get together with all the other lady tradies here on site – we call it an ‘aunty lunch’. It gives us an opportunity to confide in each other if we have any issues, or just to have a good old laugh.

International Women’s Day - Belinda


I have a colourful life history which can either knock you down or lift you up, but it gives you a lot to contribute to someone who is in a difficult situation – and it comes straight from the heart. One of the proudest moments in my career was being nominated for BSL’s general manager’s award for the work I do with our Peer Support programme, which is about mental health and being there for your mate when they need you most.

I became a fitter and turner because I was looking for security. I wanted a future. And in my family there wasn’t a lot going on at the time. I couldn’t see how I could support my children in the future – and I wanted to show them a different way of life.

Over twenty years later and I’m still a fitter and turner. What I love most about my job is the people I work with. We genuinely care about what we do – and about doing it well."

International Women’s Day - Gillian


Chief Financial Officer, Aluminium, Montreal, Canada

I joined mining by accident – I’m originally from Ireland and mining isn’t a really big industry there. I moved to Australia almost 20 years ago and needed a job, and the first job I got was in mining.


I’ve stayed in the industry because it’s wonderful, and while we are not perfect and we make mistakes, Rio is a brilliant company. We’re producing the materials the world needs – it’s really great to be part of that.

My job is all about performance – how do we optimise the performance of our assets for all stakeholders, and how do we do it in a safe and sustainable way.

To anyone considering a career in mining: Just do it. Don’t question it for a second. Just do it.”




Fixed Plant Manager, West Angeles Iron Ore mine, Western Australia

As the fixed plant manager, I manage the processing plant at a large iron ore operation and lead a team who operate and maintain the plant. I’ve had a fantastic career working in mining and I invite any woman considering going into the industry to reach out to your broader network to see if there is anyone who might be able to share their experience.

International Women’s Day - Mhairi


And be yourself – you might think as a female working in the mining industry that you might have to behave in a certain way, act like one of the boys. But that’s just not the case.

You’ll find that you’re respected for who you are. 

We need to continue to encourage inclusive behaviours to create a more inclusive environment around us.”

International Women’s Day - Sugar


Senior Manager Communities, Oyu Tolgoi, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
As a professional working in Rio Tinto and mining industry for 15 years, I’d offer three pieces of advice: first, embrace any challenges with a positive attitude and behaviour – accept them as a learning opportunity. Secondly – be authentic, you don’t need to change yourself, build on your strengths and talent. Lastly, build a network to support each other.”


Senior Transformation Adviser, Aluminium, Montreal, Canada
As part of the transformation team, my job is to introduce changes in our business – like new technology or new skills or ways of working – and help our teams adapt. I didn’t know much about the mining industry when I joined Rio a year and a half ago. What attracted me was the diversity of people I could meet and work with. Your title, background, culture, language or sexual orientation make no difference to me – what really matters to me is your story.”
International Women’s Day - Erika

If you have any questions you’d like to ask these women, they’ll be taking over our Instagram account throughout March.

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