Espley receives WIM’s Trailblazer Award

2013-03-06
Samantha Espley, WIM Trailblazer Award winner

Samantha Espley was recognized as a leading lady in mining when she was presented with the Trailblazer Award at the Women in Mining Canada (WIM) International reception, held at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange on March 5. Espley has dedicated the last 25 years to clearing a path for herself and for other women to excel in senior management roles in mining.

“I am humbled and honoured to receive this prestigious award from WIM Canada,” said Espley, general manager of mines and mills technical services for Ontario operations at Vale. “Mining has allowed me to have a challenging and rewarding career, and I think it is incumbent on female professionals to promote mining as an attractive career choice to the next generation of young Canadian women.”

Not only is Espley the first woman to hold her current role at Vale but she is also an active volunteer who has helped advance careers of other women by working with engineering and mining students, authoring papers and running events devoted to raising the profile of women in mining. She is a past-president and founding director of Women In Science and Engineering Sudbury (WISE), a past member of the Board of Trustees for Science North, and a long-standing member of CIM. Espley was recently appointed as a board member for the Bharti School of Engineering at Laurentian University. In 2010, Espley co-authored and presented “Gaining Insights on Career Satisfaction for Women in Mining,” a paper that used survey data to highlight factors impacting the career satisfaction of women employed in Canada’s mining sector.

In her current position, Espley leads a multidisciplinary group of mining and mineral processing engineers, geologists, metallurgists, technologists and other technical staff to support Vale’s mining and milling operations in Sudbury. She makes strategic business and technical decisions to ensure Vale is mining in a financially feasible manner and is maximizing value at five underground mines, two open pit operations, as well as the new Totten mine project. Espley is also accountable for the Clarabelle mill and matte processing facility. She has been with the company since 1990 – when it was owned by Inco Limited – and has earned the respect of her colleagues, garnering her roles of increasing responsibility.

“She is an excellent person to work with,” said Angie Robson, manager of corporate affairs for Vale’s Ontario operations. “She is a role model, not only to the females but also to the males on her team, because she is someone who is both extremely professional and extremely approachable and generous with her time when it comes to helping develop other people.”

Espley’sTraiblazer Award will have plenty of company in her trophy cabinet. As a mining engineering master’s student at Laurentian University, she received the Governor General’s Gold Medal Award for Academic Excellence. In 2009, she received CIM’s Distinguished Service Medal for her tireless dedication to CIM and her determined efforts to promote the minerals industry through her work with Science North and WISE.

Despite her success, Espley remains down-to-earth and focused on helping mentor other women in the industry: “I look forward to seeing more women occupy senior management roles in our industry through the work of WIM and other industry partners.”

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