February 2011

Meeting gives spark to new initiatives

First annual gathering calls for a greater expanded role for women in mining

By Jeff Borsato


Women in Mining board of directors and keynote speaker, from left to right: Jean Lucas, vice-president WIM Canada; MaryAnn Mihychuk, president WIM Canada; Catherine McLeod-Seltzer, chairman of Pacific Rim Mining and keynote speaker; Mary Louise Hall, treasurer WIM Canada; and Catharine Shaw, secretary WIM Canada | Photo courtesy of Jeff Borsato

Metals prices are on the rise, optimism is returning to the industry and along with it, a growing sense that women will assume a greater role across the mining industry. That was the key message delivered by Women in Mining (WIM) president MaryAnn Mihychuk at the group’s first annual general meeting held last November in Toronto.

Formed in 2009, WIM is a national not-for-profit organization focused on advancing the interests of women in the mining and exploration sectors. It supports grassroots initiatives that foster personal and professional development. The organization represents a diverse cross-section of the mining industry and counts both men and women among its membership. In her opening address, Mihychuk stressed the value of the mineral and mining sector to the Canadian economy, and how concerns for the future drive their efforts forward.

Former Manitoba Minister of Industry, Trade and Mines, Mihychuk offered advice to women working within the mining industry. “Women need to continue to be assertive and assume challenging roles,” she said. “They need to look for ways to promote themselves and express the values they bring to the company to get their skills recognized.”

Tasked with improving diversity within the industry, WIM Canada encourages women to consider a career in the mining and mineral exploration industry. Fellow board of director member Catharine Shaw expressed her satisfaction with the turnout of over 54 guests, either in person or via teleconference. Serving as the group’s secretary, Shaw said that representation from across the country had been an early goal for the organization.

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from the evening’s special guest, 1999 Mining Man [sic] of the Year award winner Catherine McLeod-Seltzer (see Women in Mining profile on page 76). Her keynote speech, “Rock Hard Lessons: the exciting personal story of one of Canada’s most revered women in mining and her path to success,” gave the audience an up-close and personal account from one of the Canadian mining industry’s most successful women.

McLeod-Seltzer spoke about failure as being not an obstacle but rather a motivator for future endeavors, and how her work helped to improve the investment climate of up-and-coming mining states such as Peru. The mining industry, she said, is a meritocracy and because of that, fundamental challenges remain the same, regardless of gender. Stressing the importance of having a well-written and realistic business plan that anticipates the cycles of the industry, she added: “Raise more funds than you think you need in good times to help during the lean times.”

McLeod-Seltzer encouraged women to take risks and explore the diverse range of opportunities in the mining industry and acknowledged the work-life and work-family challenges that women face.

During the AGM, the newly elected board of directors discussed future plans for 2011, including renewed focus on research and development and the establishment of five committees to support expansion and create industry alliances. The upcoming PDAC in 2011 will feature the WIM Canada annual networking reception and if the AGM attendance was any indication of the group’s increased visibility, it should be another record turnout.

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