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In Vogue Mining: What’s hot this season in the world of mining

By 02/01/2012March 9th, 2018News

WIM (UK)’s annual Education Event on 9 November 2011 attracted record numbers of mining and engineering students and graduates planning or making their first career move.

We were delighted to see students from Imperial College, Oxford University, the University of Leicester, Cardiff University and Royal Holloway University of London, who met WIM (UK) members and participated in a lively discussion with our inspiring speakers:

  • Sarah Boad, Membership Development Manager for the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, who chaired the panel and orchestrated the discussions;
  • Ruth Allington, Joint Senior Partner at GWP Consultants and President of the Federation of European Geologists;
  • Ana Elizabeth Bastida, Lecturer and Mining Programme Director at Dundee University’s Centre for Energy Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy; and
  • Sarah Gordon, Safety Reviews and Actions Programme – Group S&SD, Anglo American.

Each of the speakers brought a different point of view to the discussion, which focused on how students and new graduates can best prepare themselves for their first career moves in the mining industry, and how to successfully manage growth, challenges and opportunities throughout a career.

Networking – a key to the industry

Sarah Boad, Membership Development Manager for the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3), started the evening by reminding us of the importance of networking, particularly in an industry which often requires both long periods of work abroad and continued updates on the technical advances being made in the relevant fields: building and maintaining links with a professional community is a key strength in shaping a career.

One of the most important networks and a leading authority in the worldwide materials and mining community, the IOM3 is a major UK engineering institution which seeks to promote and develop all aspects of materials science and engineering, geology, mining and associated technologies, mineral and petroleum engineering and extraction metallurgy. It was formed from the merger of the Institute of Materials and the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy in June 2002, and its roots go back to the Iron and Steel Institute which was established in 1869.

IOM3 has a membership of over 18,000 world-wide, and represents a combination of scientific, technical and human resources which links industry, government, education, research and the academic world. Individual members of the Institute come from a variety of backgrounds, from students to company chief executives. Members qualify for different grades of membership, ranging from Affiliate to Fellow, depending on academic qualifications and professional experience. The professional development programme run by the Institute helps contribute to members’ career enhancement towards senior grades of membership and Chartered Engineer (CEng) status. Uniquely, the Institute also embraces membership of companies and of schools within its Industrial Affiliate and Schools Affiliate schemes.

Aside from the professional recognition linked to chartership and the development programme, IOM3 members also benefit from the Institute’s Information Services, which include extensive library resources as well as a team of materials experts who provide consultancy services to members and to companies who have joined the Institute’s Industrial Affiliate Scheme. The vast network of local societies allows members to meet other professionals virtually anywhere in the UK, while the new members’ website centralises member profiles, electronic journals and other Institute news and updates.

IOM3’s educational activities aim to promote the materials discipline to younger generations by allowing access, through the Schools Affiliate Scheme, to a range of educational resources and materials. The Institute has very close links with schools and colleges and is responsible for accrediting university and college courses and industrial training schemes.

As was stressed during the discussion, while WIM (UK) provides a unique opportunity to interact with women in all businesses and professions of the across the mining industry, members are also encouraged to join other networks based on their professional interests, in order to develop a large and varied network of contacts.

Please click here for Sarah Boad’s presentation slides. For more information about IOM3 and the benefits of membership, please visit or email Sarah at

Getting that first job… and the ones that follow

Drawing on her own career path and experience, Ruth Allington, Joint Senior Partner at GWP Consultants and President of the Federation of European Geologists, shared some tips and ideas for students and young professionals considering their first career steps.

Having highlighted the importance of “making our own luck” by keeping an open mind allowing us to see and grab opportunities as they arise, Ruth encouraged young professionals not to overlook the basic skills by letting IT and tools get in the way, and to continually invest in their own knowledge: commitment to professional development and engagement in our professional community must go hand in hand. Networking and membership in industry organisations will provide not only role models and mentoring opportunities, but also strong personal relationships which are a great support throughout a career. The benefits of pursuing an interest in disciplines related to our core competence were also discussed: Ruth for example was exposed to dispute resolution early in her career and built on this by qualifying as a commercial mediator and gaining experience as an expert witness.

Having identified a number of opportunities in the construction materials sector which could be relevant to students and young graduates today, Ruth discussed a number of key questions to ask ourselves when applying for any position – and in particular a first job. This “checklist for getting shortlisted or generating interest on a speculative basis” included the following aspects:

Have you done enough research? A candidate’s knowledge of the industry and company – or lack thereof – comes through in any interview… and sometimes even in the previous correspondence! In particular, it’s worth asking: what does this company or division do that you are passionate about? We all work better – and are most engaging – in areas or on subjects of interest, particularly when we share them with others.

Do you meet the person specification if there is one? And if that’s not the case, how can you turn that to your advantage? This is an opportunity to think outside the box and to propose solutions that an employer may not have envisaged previously.

What is this organisation looking for in an employee? How can you stand out from the crowd? Ruth for example reviewed some of the key qualities she looks for in a candidate: although technical or scientific ability is key, alone it is not enough: enthusiasm, resourcefulness and the ability to think laterally are also important, as are communication skills and attention to detail; furthermore, willingness to learn should also bring the confidence to ask… and to learn from mistakes. Other employers may have a similar approach: by seeking more information about the company, through public information or discussing with contacts who can share insight, it is possible to anticipate these requirements and make sure to put these qualities forward during the recruitment process.

What is the corporate culture and would you fit in? How do they treat their staff?  It’s important to know whether there are any training or mentoring opportunities, how staff are encouraged to grow as professionals, how team members interact… These are vital elements of personal and professional development, and important complements to the performance of professional duties.

Please click here for Ruth Allington’s presentation slides, which also include some information relevant to the themes of communication and interdisciplinary work discussed during the Q&A that followed the presentations. For more information, please email Ruth at

Understanding the industry and anticipating the trends

Ana Elizabeth Bastida, Lecturer and Mining Programme Director at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee, which aims at advancing knowledge and practice in the sector from a sustainable development perspective, teaches courses on the international, transnational and comparative aspects of the law and governance framework for mining. Elizabeth has researched extensively on the analysis and evaluation of prevailing models of the legal, institutional and contractual regimes for the mining sector within a sustainable development framework. Aside from her research and academic work, Elizabeth has practised law in Argentina and has been an external legal consultant to various governmental, intergovernmental, non-governmental organisations and corporate institutions, as well as companies. She explained that this allowed her to focus on concept analysis and development as well as practical implementation, which enriches her experience and widens her outlook.

All industries operate within a context, which also includes a regulatory environment: understanding these aspects, particularly in a sector characterised like mining by inter-disciplinary work, is a key part of planning career moves and participating constructively in the industry. Elizabeth also stressed that adaptation may be a vital part of professional development: as times change and we evolve through our own career path, it is important to recognise that new opportunities to choose various areas of practice will arise, and that our professional focus may shift and change as a result. Allowing ourselves to consider the entire value chain of our industry will open career opportunities we may not have envisaged before: for example, the trends on ethical and green products have triggered initiatives for certification of the whole supply chain and processes in the chain of custody, opening new avenues for professionals across the sector.

Elizabeth analysed some of the key trends currently driving mining currently, particularly in relation to demand and supply of minerals. The growth of minerals demand and resulting competition for resources is driving the current trend of globalisation in the industry: whereas demand was traditionally met from deposits close to where they are consumed, investment expansion has been shifting towards developing countries. This in turn has resulted in a realisation by industrial nations that they need to secure supply of minerals for the future, as evidenced in Europe by the 2008 EU Raw Materials Initiative which suggests fostering supply of raw materials from European sources.

Mining projects are not only investment projects, requiring a series of skills relating to asset acquisition and operation, but also catalysts to sustainable development: mining professionals need to understand the principles driving environmental regulation, political and social requirements and CSR strategies and tools. This in turn strengthens the trend, across the mining sector, towards collaboration and cooperative practices: whatever the discipline they practice, students and young graduates entering this industry must prepare for this, going outside the immediate scope of their studies and using networking opportunities to discuss with professionals from all aspects of the industry.

Please click here for Ana Elizabeth Bastida’s presentation slides. For more information about the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee, please visit or email Elizabeth at

Making the best of opportunities… and challenges

Sarah Gordon, who works in Anglo American’s Safety Reviews and Actions Programme, described her own experience of starting a career in a large mining company such as Anglo American and shared some of the more memorable anecdotes that shaped it, to give some tips to students and young graduates looking forward to their first jobs and beyond.

Having completed her undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow, Sarah then went on to complete a PhD in Meteoritics at Imperial College London. Her experience in both research and field geology, coupled with her participation in Anglo‘s internship programme, allowed her to become involved in a wide range of projects across the company. Prior to her current role, Sarah worked on country risk and prospectivity assessments and research and development communication as part of Anglo American’s Exploration and Geosciences team, before becoming Technical and Sustainable Development Coordinator in the Other Mining and Industrial Businesses division focusing on non-core assets to be divested.

Sarah’s discussion of her career path in some ways exemplified some of the tips and ideas discussed with the previous speakers, as she discussed mainly anecdotes relating to her choice of studies and jobs within Anglo American, illustrating how each challenge can be turned into a learning experience or even an advantage. Sarah recommended to the students and young professionals to keep abreast of developments and be aware of the trends and cycles in their industry, in order to anticipate where opportunities will lie, and suggested that they should not be afraid to think beyond the current focus of their training and experience in order to progress as professionals, expand their outlook and add new layers of competence to their profile. Sarah also encouraged everyone in the audience to be passionate and bold in their belief in what they do, and was both humorous and inspirational in her depiction of her own career choices and experiences.

Please click here for Sarah Gordon’s photo slides. For more information, please email Sarah at


These presentations were followed by a Q&A and debate session lead by the panel of speakers, touching on a number of topics including how to prepare for and manage change in our work environment or personal life throughout our career and how to use networking opportunities.

The evening was a great success, ending much later than scheduled as everyone continued the discussion over drinks long after the presentations and Q&A.

We would like to thank our amazing speakers for their enthusiasm and for sharing with us their stories and lessons, as well as all the students who joined us and informed others about Women in Mining: since the event many more students have registered as members. We also thank Deloitte for hosting us and look forward to next year’s Education Event!