Tuesday, June 11, 2019
At a workshop held in the city of Antofagasta
APEC Chile 2019 addresses challenges for women in the mining industry
The activities demonstrated that in order to attract, retain and develop the participation of women in the mining sector, there is a need to educate the public and create public policies on to this issue.
The APEC "Participation of Women in the Mining Industry" workshop held on June 5 and 6 in the city of Antofagasta attracted many participants. Its purpose was to train public and private sector mining professionals to identify and address the challenges faced by women in this industry.
On the first day of the workshop, which was held at the facilities of Finning Chile, the guests and representatives of the APEC economies exchanged views on how to incorporate a gender perspective into the mining industry and take steps to include more women in this type of work.
The activity was led by Women and Gender Equity Undersecretary Carolina Cuevas, who remarked, "Significant progress is being made in Chile. Our country is in a position to attract more women to the industry.”
The Regional Governor of Antofagasta, Marco Antonio Díaz, explained that mining is the driving force in the region, but that it faces a major challenge in terms of gender. "Chile’s rate of female participation in the mining industry is 8.2%, but the average for APEC economies is 16%," he said, adding, "As we get closer to achieving that rate, we will be able to generate the conditions necessary to improve territorial development."
Canada co-hosted the workshop, and its Ambassador to Chile, Patricia Peña, said that it is important to share Canada’s focus on involving women in mining with the APEC economies. "We recognize that the value of our mining sector and its productivity and the future of both of these elements depend on diversity and the inclusion of our entire population, and that includes women," she emphasized.
The workshop featured keynote speakers Michelle Ash, President of the Global Mining Guidelines Group-Australia; Julia Torreblanca, Vice President of Corporate Affairs of the Cerro Verde mining company; Irene Schlechter, Corporate Director of Diversity and Inclusion; and Ellen Lenny, Manager of Albemarle USA.
Furthermore, on Thursday, June 6, the Spence BHP mining company offered a tour headed by Undersecretary Carolina Cuevas and BHP Billiton Pampa Norte President Alejandro Vásquez. The goal of the activity was to allow participants to learn about the mining company's practices given that 20% of their total workforce is female.
"We have to work hand in hand with the private sector so that we can quickly allow women to enter this industry, develop their skills and reach leadership positions. This has already occurred, for example, at Spence; their general manager is a woman," explained Undersecretary Cuevas.
Alejandro Vázquez said that BHP’s goal is to achieve 50% participation of women by 2025 and that major challenges will have to be addressed. "We have to adapt certain conditions in our facilities and our team and keep changing the mentality of many, and this is daily task." In addition, the leader of BHP noted that "progress in women's participation has led to improvements in all of our productivity indices, and that is fundamental."
The conclusions of the workshop will serve as inputs for the development of one of the deliverables of APEC Chile 2019, the "Policy and Best Practices Recommendations for Increasing the Participation of Women in the Mining Industry" report. This document will showcase key experiences and successful cases from APEC economies in order to help the public and private sector implement best practices in their respective economies.