Support for women in the mining sector has been improving, but there is still room for improvement according to one female graduate geologist starting out in the industry.

Victoria Bambaci told Stockhead that rare earths hopeful Arafura Resources (ASX:ARU), where she worked at on a casual basis while preparing to start on her honours project, had been very supportive during her time with the company.

Arafura owns the shovel-ready Nolans NdPr project in the Northern Territory.

“It’s just been an extremely rewarding experience and everyone has been really friendly and I’m comfortable talking to them about how I’ve been going starting off in my early career,” she noted.

However, she believes that there needs to be broader diversification in the overall industry to encourage more women to pursue careers in mining.

“I think initially many females might be deterred from entering such a male dominated workforce in mining resources, which is what professional support network and strategies to promote female leadership within resources should be aimed towards,” Bambaci noted.

“Additionally, I feel organisations should raise professional development programs for women in order to show empowerment and encouragement of pursuing a career in the resources sector.

“I think if the support network is there, it just makes it a lot easier for people to reach out and talk about it.”

Mental health

Besides believing that more can be done to encourage more women in mining, Bambaci is also passionate about mental health in the resources industry.

“I’d like to just touch on the fact that mental health can be a huge thing in resources and even working away on mine sites, some people might struggle to have that support network and a good friend that they feel comfortable talking to,” she told Stockhead.

“I’m always up for a chat and coffee because I’ve struggled with a bit with depression in the past so I understand how debilitating it can be.

“And the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely aggravated mental health issues as well, anxiety in particular, and just with the ever-changing nature of COVID and the uncertainty surrounding it.

“It will take a toll on your mental health.”

Rare earths

While Bambaci will be working on her honours project on impact craters and shot deformation at the Space Science and Technology Centre at Curtin, she expressed an interest in continuing with rare earths if the opportunity presented itself.

“After my honours project, I’ll be really aiming towards just really kickstarting my early career in the minerals industry and research,” she noted.

“So I think that’s where I see myself in five years’ time just, step by step, gaining more experience in the minerals industry and in particular rare earths. I’d like to continue exploring that and possibly go back in a few years’ time and eventually doing my PhD.”

Bambaci added that rare earths was about sustainability for the future, particularly in the number of uses for neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr).

On rare earths supply security, she believes that a lot of progress has already been made since the COVID pandemic struck.

“There’s definitely an increasing effort being made by Australian companies to continue their efforts to broaden the global rare supply chain and reduce China’s dominance in these times for the production and distribution of rare earths,” she explained.

Arafura is focused on progressing offtake and financing agreements for its development ready Nolans NdPr project near Alice Springs.

Once these are secured, the company has everything in place to start its development.

At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Arafura is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.