• Sharon Dargaville

Future of Mining - The Diversity Imperative for Mining in a Post Pandemic World


As a leader in both technology and mining sectors with a focus on health and safety in mines. How have you experienced positive shifts in the industry as a result of female leadership? For example, health and safety and sustainable business practices?  A more holistic look at the benefits of advanced biometrics as opposed to ‘box ticking’?

That’s a really good question and one that resonates well with myself and Canaria Technologies. Safety is our core business and ensuring that miners get home safe is paramount to what we do


. In our industry, gender diversity is steadily increasing openness to change and making risk more acceptable. From my experience, both technology and mining industries with more women in senior positions are more profitable, more socially responsible, and provide safer higher-quality customer experience. In Canaria Technologies we have over 60% of our company now represented by women including data science and engineering roles. The feedback from the team and customers is Canaria offers a more holistic approach to problem-solving especially when it comes to predictive biometrics. There is more emphasis on relationships rather than just technology.


Within the D&I discussion, technology and STEM skills have been a critical feature in gender equality. Getting the balance right for the workforce of tomorrow and women in tech skills. What do you think mining companies need to focus on to retain and upskill tomorrow’s leaders?

Generally, most people view STEM programs as masculine, teachers and parents often overlook girls' potential in math classes as early as preschool. In their formative years, girls have been discouraged from participating in the foundational classes of STEM programs. And the mining industry is facing unprecedented challenges in its search for talent. As demographics change and demand for natural resources continues, the ability of mining companies to find the right people with the specialised skills to meet this demand is severely stretched. There is a gender imbalance in the mining industry regarding the number of stakeholders and the roles that each gender group (male/female) plays in the industry. While the large-scale mining sector has a high male dominance, the small-scale mining sector has a near gender balance. Globally, women constitute less than 10% of the large-scale mining workforce. The change needs to shift in early onboarding programs, championing and sponsoring women to participate and learn in diversified roles across the industry.


Burnout and cognitive fatigue are something you encounter regularly with Canaria’s clients – how do you see female leadership

tackling these issues as opposed to male leaders? Why is it imperative we retain these characteristics as fatigue and burnout continues to uptick? How could this be applied to non-practical job roles?


There are many important qualities that should be considered when trying to create a diverse workforce that prioritises reducing burnout some that come to mind are—discussing challenges, getting a good night’s sleep, mindfulness, and exercise. In general, women are more likely to be democratic and “transformational” leaders, acting as mentors or coaches and encouraging creative problem-solving. We really need to encourage leaders to talk with employees about the challenges they experience and empower managers to help employees reduce their challenges. Such conversations may reveal simple ways to create a more inclusive work environment without major burnout or fatigue. Leadership can play a vital role in encouraging company culture for both practical and non-practical roles which allow employees to form healthy boundaries around work time availability, and women leaders can be excellent role models. Both mining and technology can be the next focus on reducing bias, recognizing and rewarding the diversity of opinion contributed by women, and supporting all employees through flexible arrangements and formal support.