How women can enter the mining industry without mining experience

November 1, 2022
Mining industry without experience

Does strong remuneration, challenging work, interesting training, travel opportunities, and working with advanced technology appeal to you? A career in mining could be right up your alley! 

No mining experience? No problem. 

Transferable skills, personal attributes, and support from the right company can help you get a start in the industry. 

Two years ago, Emma Davis did just that – shifting from a completely different career pathway into mining, without any industry experience. She’s currently Community and Communications Advisor for BHP.

“I love the variety,” said Emma. “I get to work with external stakeholders and so many different teams within the company on lots of different projects.” 

If you’re looking to enter the mining industry, but don’t have any experience, here are a few questions you should consider. 

Why make a change? 

There are a few factors that might motivate you to change industries. Sometimes, the opportunity to do so can come in surprising ways. 

Emma, for one, always envisioned a career in journalism, TV news, and production. 

After completing her degree in Adelaide, she worked in Adelaide’s ABC Newsroom, on the daily 7pm news bulletin, and as part of the national ABC children’s program, “Behind the News”. She then spent eight years as a reporter, presenter, and producer for BTN Newsbreak. 

“I had so many amazing experiences – such as working with a 13-year-old ‘rookie reporter’ on the election trail, reporting from the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, and spending two weeks filming stories at the Australian Antarctic Division’s Casey Station in Antarctica.” 

But, despite having established a successful career in journalism, Emma needed a new challenge. 

“I love learning new things, growing, and stepping outside my comfort zone.”

This adventurous spirit shows in her passion for travel too! She’s hiked with mountain gorillas in Uganda, skied in the Japan snowfields, and campervanned through New Zealand. Canada is next on her list!

Mining industry without experience

“I’ve never been exposed to mining, so I was really excited to try something completely new and see a different side of Australia.

“I also wanted to continue developing my communication skills. I’m a strong communicator, but I hadn’t experienced stakeholder management, or written strategies and plans before. In my new role, I get to grow these skills.” 

Most importantly, Emma feels like she can have an impact in her role and make a difference to people. 

“I get the opportunity to connect with people, share their stories, and promote the great work they’re doing.” 

Do you have to work FIFO? 

Generally, mining roles require people to work onsite, and these sites can be quite remote. If you’re up for it, FIFO (which stands for Fly In, Fly Out, and refers to the way employees of these remote sites travel to work) can be a great challenge with several benefits. 

It certainly surprised Emma when she discovered how much she enjoys it.  

“I love the separation between giving your whole self at work onsite and then returning home to focus on family and friends. It’s also great getting out into the community, speaking with our local stakeholders and suppliers, learning about what is important to them, and sharing ideas for improvement with my team.” 

But flexible work arrangements are possible too – something that’s become increasingly important to many women and working parents.  

So, we asked Emma…

Is there support for other more flexible work options? 

“Definitely. The pandemic challenged many companies to consider ways for people to work more flexibly. When I joined two years ago, I saw BHP rise to this challenge and do things differently.” 

Team members are not only supported in where they work, but how they work. 

“For example, do you need a gym break in the middle of the day? Do you need to return home during your swing for an important family event? BHP helps you achieve that balance.” 

The supportive network of women at BHP has also been incredibly valuable.  

“We work hard to ensure we each succeed. There’s no denying it’s a male-dominated industry. But the women I work with are so incredibly intelligent, capable, and confident that anyone who joins is in great company. Everyone shares a commitment to creating a great working environment for women.”

And if being a working mother makes you feel reluctant to consider a career in mining, Emma has this to add: 

“I know women who’ve left the industry after having a baby because of misconceptions that they wouldn’t be able to balance work with family. But BHP is open to accommodating people’s different life circumstances and trying new things to help them thrive in their roles. They care about retaining the best people.” 

For women to succeed in mining, Emma’s best tip is to let go of self-doubt.  

“Sometimes, women can feel like they don’t belong, or need to prove they deserve their job – just remember, you wouldn’t be in a role if you didn’t deserve it. You’re worthy of being where you are. So, shake off the insecurities, be confident, and go for what you want!” 

Would you like to be the first to hear about new opportunities at BHP? 

Set a job alert 

How do you choose the right company? 

If you’re keen to change industries, be prepared for a steep learning curve! 

Choosing the right company can make all the difference in making your move a success. In particular, companies with supportive workplace cultures and training opportunities are great things to look for.  

For Emma, one of the first things that stood out to her was BHP’s people and culture.  

“Right from the start, I was so impressed by how willing everyone was to help me and collaborate. Being new to mining was daunting, but everyone has been so happy to share their knowledge. I’ve never felt like a burden. 

Mining industry without experience

“The company also prides itself on doing things differently. It’s not just about mining and delivering benefits to shareholders. We have many stakeholders, and they’re all equally important. And, unlike other companies, we don’t just set and forget this, it’s actually in our strategy. We actively aim for stakeholder value creation in everything we do.” 

Both formal and on-the-job training have helped Emma succeed in her role.  

“I’ve been supported to do short courses and attend conferences. These opportunities have helped me broaden my knowledge and learn more about what others are doing in the industry. 

“Within the company too, I’m constantly given opportunities to stretch myself by taking on new tasks. My job is very collaborative, so I love working with different teams, learning about what they do, and helping them to succeed.” 

What transferable skills are useful for mining? 

While hard skills can be useful and relevant for mining roles, Emma believes skills like communication serve everyone well. 

“Great writing and clear communication skills will take you far. Personal attributes too, such as a willingness to learn and try new things, are also important. I work with so many people from non-traditional career paths, and we’re all supported. This builds our positive culture and creates diversity of thought in our workplace.” 

This was clear to Emma, even from the interview stage. The people at BHP weren’t just focused on her skills, but how she’d fit into the company culture. 

BHP cares about who you are as a person, not just what your qualifications are.”  

Want to learn more about the benefits of a career at BHP?

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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