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Indigenous women playing key roles at BHP's South Flank mine

Giovanni Torre -

Wagyl Kaip woman Miammi Leadbitter is leading from the front at BHP's South Flank iron ore mine.

The central Pilbara mine is the company's first to have a 40 per cent female workforce.

As Site Improvement Manager, Ms Leadbitter is part of management team that is 60 per cent female. She also plays an important role as a mentor to other Indigenous workers.

"For me, as an Indigenous woman in a leadership role, I know that working at South Flank I am treated with respect and measured on what I do and who I am, not how I look," she said.

"I have worked hard to get here throughout my career, working form the ground up. I am treated as an equal and supported in all aspects of my life – as a leader, as a mum and as a workmate.

"Having a higher proportion of women at site in roles at all levels makes for a far more respectful and more productive workplace."

Ms Leadbitter said the leadership team at South Flank made a conscious commitment to diversity.

"We know that it will not happen just because we want it to happen, we have to be deliberate in our pursuit of it," she said.

She has mentored Gabby Wilson, a 20-year-old Nyamal woman, through her career after recruiting her as the youngest driller at South Flank.

Ms Wilson, a production drilling technician, has been at South Flank for 22 months.

"I was really young when I started here, and a bit nervous about whether I would be able to cope with mine life, or be able to do what was expected of me. But I've had such strong support from Day One, from my line leaders, from my colleagues, and from my friends up here," she said.

"At school, I never thought I would be driving a drill rig, or achieving my life goals so early, like building my own house."

In 2016, BHP set a goal to achieve a gender balanced workforce by 2025. At the time, 17.6% of BHP's employees globally were women, today the figure is 33.6%.

The company has also reducing the gender pay gap and the gap between male and female voluntary turnover, which is now down to 0.6 per cent.

At BHP's WA Iron Ore (WAIO), one third of the Asset Lead Team is female, half of the Nickel West Asset Lead Team is female, and 11 per cent of the WAIO workforce state-wide is Indigenous.

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