Being one of the more controversial sectors of the mining industry, uranium has its fair share of challenges. Perhaps it needs a woman’s touch?

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) chair Vanessa Guthrie is well-versed in the area of uranium, having headed junior Toro Energy (ASX:TOE) and served as a director on the board of Vimy Resources (ASX:VMY).

Minerals Council of Australia chair Vanessa Guthrie. Pic: LinkedIn
Minerals Council of Australia chair Vanessa Guthrie. Pic: LinkedIn

Uranium mining has come under heavy scrutiny and faced strong opposition because of the inherent risks associated with digging up the radioactive material.

“Being a woman in the uranium sector presented no greater challenges than being a woman in leadership roles in the resources industry at large,” Guthrie told Stockhead.

“In fact, to some degree, being a woman was an advantage, as the greatest opponents of uranium mining have been women, largely in the 25 to 45-year-old cohort.

“And being a woman made it easier to connect with the concerns raised by other women and respond with authenticity and in a way which resonated.”

 

The proof is in the numbers

According to Guthrie, all of the data points to the fact that more diverse companies with at least 30 per cent women in their senior teams are more productive and successful on every measure of financial performance.

And while the junior end of the market right now is not doing so well at adding more women to their boards, or having women in leadership roles, Guthrie says the mining industry isn’t the worst.

>>READ: Less than 30 small caps have equal representation of women on their boards. There are 1714 small caps

Here’s a list* of ASX small cap miners and oil & gas companies with female directors:

ASX Code Company Market Cap No. of Women No. of Board Members
AX8 ACCELERATE RESOURCES LTD$1,571,46014
AIV ACTIVEX LTD$34,559,54024
ADY ADMIRALTY RESOURCES NL$13,909,61613
AGR AGUIA RESOURCES LTD$18,101,06816
A1C AIC RESOURCES LTD$13,125,00013
ALY ALCHEMY RESOURCES LTD$5,725,45414
AHQ ALLEGIANCE COAL LTD$51,116,54416
ARS ALT RESOURCES LTD$6,469,90214
AXE ARCHER EXPLORATION LTD$15,508,03813
ARL ARDEA RESOURCES LTD$45,111,80413
ADV ARDIDEN LTD$5,044,14124
AXT ARGO EXPLORATION LTD$2,195,64037
AKM ASPIRE MINING LTD$56,551,20017
AYM AUSTRALIA UNITED MINING LTD$3,685,15513
AZM AZUMAH RESOURCES LTD$14,860,90914
BSE BASE RESOURCES LTD$279,989,53617
BAT BATTERY MINERALS LTD$27,679,92216
BCI BCI MINERALS LTD$79,521,78414
BCN BEACON MINERALS LTD$43,136,26413
BNL BIG STAR ENERGY LTD$1,986,00013
BLZ BLAZE INTERNATIONAL LTD$4,410,00013
BOC BOUGAINVILLE COPPER LTD$48,127,50015
B2Y BOUNTY MINING LTD$38,515,03215
BRK BROOKSIDE ENERGY LTD$11,990,66213
BRU BURU ENERGY LTD$138,263,76014
CMM CAPRICORN METALS LTD$82,414,93614
CRB CARBINE RESOURCES LTD$8,389,36313
CXU CAULDRON ENERGY LTD$6,585,79415
CTP CENTRAL PETROLEUM LTD$103,374,99216
CLQ CLEAN TEQ HOLDINGS LTD$205,276,56029
COI COMET RIDGE LTD$218,362,92815
CZL CONSOLIDATED ZINC LTD$15,299,51814
CSV CSG LTD$71,308,90424
CUE CUE ENERGY RESOURCES LTD$45,377,78019
DNK DANAKALI LTD$198,316,80016
DYL DEEP YELLOW LTD$67,433,33616
DME DOME GOLD MINES LTD$54,845,24013
E2M E2 METALS LTD$15,278,08613
EFE EASTERN IRON LTD$1,647,60214
EEG EMPIRE ENERGY GROUP LTD$41,635,51613
ENX ENEGEX LTD$804,99713
EME ENERGY METALS LTD$27,258,83027
ERA ENERGY RESOURCES OF AUST$108,722,26426
ETE ENTEK ENERGY LTD$3,917,83213
EPW ERM POWER LTD$467,830,97627
FZR FITZROY RIVER CORP LTD$16,997,12813
FMS FLINDERS MINES LTD$118,495,78415
FSA FSA GROUP LTD$135,725,48814
GLL GALILEE ENERGY LTD$176,029,90414
GCY GASCOYNE RESOURCES LTD$39,189,73216
GML GATEWAY MINING LTD$12,928,47314
GNX GENEX POWER LTD$76,545,72016
GBE GLOBE METALS AND MINING LTD$6,522,91315
GMR GOLDEN RIM RESOURCES LTD$7,172,98813
GSM GOLDEN STATE MINING LTD$2,175,07216
GRR GRANGE RESOURCES LTD$312,481,44025
GBR GREAT BOULDER RESOURCES LTD$5,304,65814
GSN GREAT SOUTHERN MINING LTD$9,709,19513
GTR GTI RESOURCES LTD$1,953,81813
HNR HANNANS LTD$23,855,45415
HWK HAWKSTONE MINING LTD$16,567,63213
HZR HAZER GROUP LTD$29,178,25615
HFR HIGHFIELD RESOURCES LTD$242,200,880110
HZN HORIZON OIL LTD$149,727,84014
IDA INDIANA RESOURCES LTD$3,179,84613
JRL JINDALEE RESOURCES LTD$11,548,27615
KGM KALNORTH GOLD MINES LTD$3,576,96013
KPC KAZAKHSTAN POTASH CORP LTD$32,400,00028
KEY KEY PETROLEUM LTD$6,197,84916
KGL KGL RESOURCES LTD$71,491,27215
KMT KOPORE METALS LTD$5,712,98813
KRX KOPPAR RESOURCES LTD$4,921,25013
KGD KULA GOLD LTD$9,391,45115
LCD LATITUDE CONSOLIDATED LTD$3,852,50615
LPD LEPIDICO LTD$95,464,53616
LNG LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS LTD$162,966,46416
LRM LUSTRUM MINERALS LTD$1,794,12713
MXR MAXIMUS RESOURCES LTD$2,158,54313
MCM MC MINING LTD$98,615,712110
MMR MEC RESOURCES LTD$1,658,31414
MBK METAL BANK LTD$6,180,05013
MEI METEORIC RESOURCES NL$15,941,06314
MNB MINBOS RESOURCES LTD$5,654,56214
MOD MOD RESOURCES LTD$91,121,12016
MTB MOUNT BURGESS MINING NL$1,427,63815
MGV MUSGRAVE MINERALS LTD$21,659,79614
MZI MZI RESOURCES LTD$4,754,88016
NMT NEOMETALS LTD$125,114,08027
NWE NORWEST ENERGY NL$6,764,18613
OXX OCTANEX LTD$2,181,70427
PCL PANCONTINENTAL OIL & GAS NL$13,516,78926
PAN PANORAMIC RESOURCES LTD$196,826,52816
PGI PANTERRA GOLD LTD$3,374,42114
PWN PARKWAY MINERALS NL$2,433,30813
PKO PEAKO LTD$1,464,41413
PNN PEPINNINI LITHIUM LTD$3,714,03524
POS POSEIDON NICKEL LTD$97,779,96814
PDZ PRAIRIE MINING LTD$71,112,15216
RRS RANGE RESOURCES LTD$10,240,00013
RFX REDFLOW LTD$38,481,59615
REY REY RESOURCES LTD$71,149,06416
RCO ROYALCO RESOURCES LTD$12,124,26213
S2R S2 RESOURCES LTD$28,510,24614
SRI SIPA RESOURCES LTD$13,658,36724
SGQ ST GEORGE MINING LTD$37,264,52813
SVY STAVELY MINERALS LTD$39,872,02425
STX STRIKE ENERGY LTD$102,306,54415
SRK STRIKE RESOURCES LTD$6,685,37715
TLM TALISMAN MINING LTD$15,227,39015
TAR TARUGA MINERALS LTD$4,093,85014
TMR TEMPUS RESOURCES LTD$6,205,00013
TML TIMAH RESOURCES LTD$4,454,22428
TKM TREK METALS LTD$1,249,21513
TON TRITON MINERALS LTD$48,211,17215
VAL VALOR RESOURCES LTD$9,465,96114
VAN VANGO MINING LTD$101,481,40813
VMY VIMY RESOURCES LTD$27,141,62826
XAM XANADU MINES LTD$47,307,22017
YRL YANDAL RESOURCES LTD$10,695,67023
ZER ZETA RESOURCES LTD$94,817,86413

 
*The list does not include CEOs unless they are also directors.

“I think the premise of the mining industry being the worst in attracting and promoting women is a false one,” she said.

“My experience, and that of other women in leadership roles in other sectors, is that the barriers to the promotion of women to leadership are quite common in many sectors – whether that be sport, higher education, professional services, financial sector or media.”

Kelly Quirk, head of Perth-based recruiting firm Harrier Human Capital, told Stockhead earlier this year that the mining sector is a “lot better than people give it credit for”.

Guthrie believes the way the mining industry has tackled the issue has been one of the most constructive.

“While progress has been slower than we would like, the industry recognises the business case and has developed some really innovative ways to attract women and promote them into leadership roles,” she said.

“And all in an industry that operates under more difficult conditions than most sectors – conditions such as remote locations, shift work and long periods of isolation from families, and volatile commodity cycles that can impact significantly on financial and operational stability.”

Guthrie has plenty of experience in other sectors, currently serving as a director for the ABC and deputy chair of the Western Australian Cricket Association.

 

Shifting the dial

With respect to encouraging the promotion of women in the mining sector, Guthrie said the MCA was very conscious that it had a key role to play.

“Our contribution involves not only celebrating the success of women in mining through the state-based and national Women in Resources awards, but also drives change through our diversity working group, which highlights initiatives in structural and policy changes as well as cultural reform to address some of the unconscious biases that are present,” she said.

“In fact, the mining industry is one that is embracing the restructure of work to enable all employees to blend their career and family commitments and become more productive at work as a result.”

There is, however, still the problem of how people view the industry.

“To really shift the dial, we need to start with changing how we socialise girls and boys towards mining careers, and this starts with how we are perceived in the community,” Guthrie said.

“We are no longer a harsh, dirty and rough industry that is only based in the bush; mining is high tech, world-class in its research and at the cutting edge in digital automation, and many of our careers are based in the centre of our largest Australian cities.

“Shifting that imagery is key to attracting more people to work with us and enjoy some of the rich and rewarding experiences that I have enjoyed through my own career in mining.”