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MCA, BHP Billiton and Downer award scholarships to boost female participation in mining

3 Jun 2015

Statement from Chris James, Assistant Director – Workforce Skills, Minerals Council of Australia

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) last night presented five scholarships to boost the participation of young female engineers in the mining industry and train the female board members of the future.

The MCA is delighted to announce that Fia Osborn is the 2015 winner of the BHP Billiton-Minerals Council of Australia Women in Engineering Scholarship.

Fia is studying Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Queensland, an institution strongly supported by MCA members through our Minerals Tertiary Education Council (MTEC)

Fia has an excellent academic record and a wide involvement in extracurricular activities, both on-campus and off-campus. 

The BHP Billiton–MCA partnership is helping identify the next generation of talented female engineers.  Now in its eighth year, the award is open to all female undergraduate engineering students studying in Australia and provides $8,000 per annum for the final two years of study.  It aims to advance the role of women in the resources sector.

In 2014-15, there was a strong field of 58 applicants for the scholarship, showing that there is a deep talent pool of women studying engineering disciplines. This will help achieve our goal of increasing the number of female engineers in the minerals sector.

The remaining four scholarships were awarded to women for board studies, in conjunction with member companies BHP Billiton and Downer.

The MCA Women in Mining scholarships have been awarded to women working in the mining industry to enable them to complete the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Company Directors Course during 2014-15.

Bios of the scholarship winners are below. The AICD scholarship winners are:

  • Lynn Olssen (General Manager Geosciences - Snowden Group) – sponsored by BHP Billiton
  • Michelle Elvy (Red Mountain Joint Venture Manager, BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal) – sponsored by Downer
  • Maria Zappala (Manager - Business Improvement Australia and Canada, Anglo American Coal)
  • Mary-Anne Crawford (Group Manager Approvals - Centennial Coal Company

The scholarships are an MCA initiative to encourage more female participation on mining company boards by increasing the pool of ‘board ready’ women.

Funding Company Directors Course scholarships helps ‘train the gap’ in order to build an adequate pool of potential female directors to choose from.

In recent years, BHP Billiton and Downer have proudly sponsored the AICD scholarships - 11 senior industry women have undertaken the course since 2012.

The overwhelming popularity of the scholarships (there were 74 applications) demonstrates that there is a strong community of interest among talented women for board positions.

The total value is $9,200 per scholarship.

The MCA has also decided to award High Commendations and assist another seven women to complete a board readiness e-learning module offered by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. They are:

  • Meryl Jones (St Barbara Limited)
  • Jo Barron-Perry (BHP Billiton)
  • Kristie Young (Diversity Network)
  • Shalini Cooray (Rio Tinto)
  • Adrianna Skok Muir (Iluka Resources)
  • Kirsty Liddicoat (BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal)
  • Gayle Bowness (AMEC)

As the mining industry’s peak representative organisation, the MCA has accelerated its commitment over the past twelve months to increasing female participation in mining, with 15 companies now working together as part of the MCA Gender Diversity Reference Group.

2014-15 scholarship winners' biographies


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