the igr blog

Welcome to the IGR blog where we share behind the scenes info, news, history and more

Women In Mining - International Women's Day


Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate strong, hard-working and extraordinary ladies.


Last year’s Global Gender Gap Report shows us we’re further away from equality than we think, 217 years to be exact, however there are few organisations out there helping to build bridges in the gender gap. Today is a day to recognise how far equality has come, but also how far it has to go.


Women In Mining is an International organisation with branches in the UK, Canada, Chile, Nigeria, Guinea, South Africa and Australia. Their role is to speak for and with women in the mining sector. By partnering with industry leaders such as Anglo American, Glencore and Rio Tinto, they inform women of the challenges they are finding whilst pursuing careers and the opportunities that are out there. WIM organise meetings with industry professionals, for students, graduates and professionals alike so they can be lead and inspired to achieve their maximum potential. The organisation also offers a scholarship to aspiring female Mining Engineers to those applying for MSc Mining Engineering at the University of Exeter.



To honour some of the ladies making waves in the mining industry we’ve asked a few of them to share their stories.



“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back” – Malala Yousafzai



Pamela Cook Ellemers

Position: Manager - Technical Services for De Beers Canada based in Calgary, Alberta.


Why is diversity in mining important?

Diversity in mining is so important because diverse teams are stronger teams. Each of the factors that make us unique, (such as race, gender, background, experiences, skills and education) inform our ideas and opinions and therefore bring different perspectives to the table. More diverse teams are faster at problem solving and produce more innovative ideas. Inclusion and Diversity is something that we are working hard on at De Beers. At De Beers Canada we created an Inclusion and Diversity working group and engaged all of our employees across the country to help us identify potential barriers to diversity that may exist partly because of the remote nature of our work. All of this information is the basis of our action plan going forward.


What’s your advice for anyone aspiring to get into the industry?

 My advice for anyone starting in the industry is to get into the field and get your hands dirty. My career started in exploration geology, so I spent a lot of time in remote field camps across Canada’s North. In the field, I had the opportunity to work with and learn from some amazing geologists during those very important formative career years. The field teaches you resourcefulness, resilience and immerses you into a supportive learning environment. I also believe that you learn a lot about yourself because of the lack of everyday distractions like TV and cell phones, I always felt very self-aware and grounded in the field!


Who are the women that inspire me?

My mom inspires me, not only does she have a huge heart, she was a working mom of 5 children! Life has to have balance so when things get hectic, I think of my mom and know that it is achievable.


Who are the women that I aspire to be?

I think that Michelle Obama is an incredible role model. Her messages are moving and inspiring, her causes and outreach are meaningful and impactful and she leads with passion and grace.


What’s your favourite Gemstone?

My favourite gemstone is diamond!




Joanne Farrell

Position: Group Executive Health, Safety and Environment and Managing Director Australia for Rio Tinto.


Why is diversity in mining important?

Diversity and Inclusion is important for any industry, to ensure you have the best minds working on your business challenges and enabling diversity of thought and creativity.


What’s your advice for anyone aspiring to get into the industry?

The mining industry produces tangible products and enables human progress. You can travel the world, have an exciting career and know that the work you do makes a difference to the world around us.


Who are the women that inspire you? Who are the women you aspire to be?

I admire all women who have the courage to be themselves, not what someone thinks they should be. I am inspired by anyone woman who ensures she keeps the ladder of progress down for others to follow, not lifts it up once they have achieved their personal ambitions.


What’s your favourite Gemstone?

I started my career with Rio Tinto's Argyle Diamonds business, so of course my favourite gem is a Pink Diamond.




Marie – Chantal Kaninda

Position: I have twenty years’ experience in the Mining Industry. I have worked for AngloGold Ashanti, De Beers, Rio Tinto. I'm currently the Executive Director for the World Diamond Council.


Why is diversity in mining important?

Mining is a global industry, it's important that it reflects the diversity of the local population it benefits and leverage the unique aspects women bring to business in general.


What’s your advice for anyone aspiring to get into the industry?

My advice is that when you get into the industry, give the best out of yourself. It's an exciting sector.


Who are the women that inspire you? Who are the women you aspire to be?

It's not a specific woman that inspires me. I'm inspired by all these women who set specific goals to their lives and make sure every single day that they do achieve them. The ones who see the sky as their limit. I do not aspire to be another woman, but I aspire to be myself with new challenges and achievements.


What’s your favourite Gemstone?




Being a geologist myself, these women inspire me, and I'm sure others, they are hard-working, conscious, considerate and chase their goals. Many girls are afraid to get into mining because it’s viewed to be a “man’s world”, yet these ladies show us that whatever career you wish to pursue can be yours if you work for it. Being a woman should not hold you back, we can get our hands just dirty as much as the next person, whether that be in the field, surveying a mine or in the boardroom.


Here's to strong women. May we know them, may we be them and may we raise them.


Happy International Women’s day from all of us here at IGR London.


Laura, Geologist @ IGR 




Images from LinkedIn. Title image from Debswana.