Mining honoured in Queen's birthday list

WITH much of Australia taking a break today for the Queen’s Birthday holiday, Australian Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove has bestowed a swag of awards on some of Australian mining’s most respected names, with former Toro Energy chairwoman Erica Smyth being granted the nation’s highest honour.

Haydn Black

Reporter

Smyth was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), alongside swimming legend Dawn Fraser.
 
There were just 10 AC awards this year, with Smyth the only Western Australian.
 
Smyth received her award for service to the community through corporate governance roles with charitable, medical research, higher education, nuclear scientific and technology organisations, to the minerals exploration sector, and to women in business.
 
She began her career as an exploration geologist, but after developing type 1 diabetes while working in Newman she had to be flown to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and would later sit on the RFDS and Diabetes Research WA bards as a way of giving back to the community. 
 
Smyth is now working on the board of the Deep Exploration Technologies CRC and as part of the federal government's Resources 2030 taskforce, having previously served as a non-executive director of mining equipment company Emeco.
 
She was previously awarded the Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for Women in Resources from the WA Chamber of Mines and Energy and was included in Women in Mining UK's 2013 list of 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining.
 
New South Wales resident Donna Frater was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant services to the mining industry, particularly through the promotion of greater gender diversity in the sector.
 
Frater has held a number of senior geologist roles with BHP's BMA Coal and Rio Tinto. She is a past chair of AusIMM's Women in Mining Networking Committee, which helped her mission to drive cultural change and open up opportunities for women to participate in mining.
 
In 2013 she was also recognised as one of the top 100 most inspirational mining women, one of around 28 Australians. 
 
The group wants to see 20% women in non-traditional roles by 2020, and to foster a greater appreciation of diversity, something Frater continues to work towards. 
 
Also scoring an AM is Tasmania's Liz Swain, a metallurgist who was recognised for her almost 45 years of pioneering service as a woman in a field that is still dominated by men, for her position as a role model for female engineers, and for services to the community of Tasmania
 
She worked for Rio Tinto at the Bell Bay smelter for some 43 years, having applied for a job that asked for "'young men interested in careers in engineering" in 1969. She retired in 2012.
 
She has mentored many female graduates over the years, who she has encouraged to pursue opportunities not available in previous generations.
 
Minerals Council of Australian interim CEO David Byers said the awards "acknowledge(d) the great contribution being made by women working in Australia's world-class mining industry and the inspiration they provide to others".
 
He congratulated the winners on their achievements. 
 
Women made up just over a third of all nominations for this year's Queen's birthday honours. Nominations of women are 72% higher than five years ago. 
 
Of the 778 awards and appointments in the AO general division, fewer than half - 289 - were women.
 
Representing the men were Pacific Road Capital founder Paul Espie and Professor Geoffrey Phillips.
 
Sydney-based Espie was recognised with an AO for his distinguished service to the mining and infrastructure sectors through financial advisory roles, to public policy development and reform, and to not-for-profit organisations. 
 
Born into the third generation of a mining dynasty as the son of mining engineer and grandson of a South Australian copper mine manager, Espie founded Pacific Road was in 1986.
 
He was chairman of Cobar Mines following a management buy-out of the Cobar copper mine from Rio Tinto Group in 1993 and later chairman of Oxiana during the acquisition and development of the Sepon copper/gold deposit in Laos. He was also 
 
Professor Phillips was awarded his OAM for service to rogaining, minerals exploration and education.
 
An honorary professor at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Phillips has focused on gold geology for decades. Now a consultant, he was previously Chief of Division, CSIRO Exploration and Mining, general manager geology at Great Central Mines and a director at the National Key Centre in Economic Geology. 

 

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