NEWS RELEASE: Celebrating mining tradeswomen of the year

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

The Ontario Mining Association congratulates tradeswomen of the year Dani Drewek and Sarah Hunter. This duo was recognized recently as two of the dozen 2014 Influential Women of Northern Ontario Award winners. They are accomplished, talented females becoming leaders in their workplaces and positive role models. With all due respect to the abilities and accomplishments of all the winners, we would like to focus on two all-stars working in mining.

Ms Drewek, a 22-year-old Thunder Bay native, works as cage tender at Goldcorp’s Red Lake Mine, where she started in 2012. She is the first female to be doing this job. Ms Hunter is an electrician working underground for nickel-copper producer Vale in Sudbury, where she has worked since 2005.

The Influential Women of Northern Ontario Awards are run by Northern Ontario Business. The award categories include executive, entrepreneur, young entrepreneur and three new categories – Aboriginal leadership, tradeswomen and influential community trailblazer. There were 12 winners in 2014, six from Northeastern Ontario and six from Northwestern Ontario. Direct quotations in this e-news are attributed to Northern Ontario Business.

“It is estimated that women will start half of Canada’s new companies,” said Patricia Mills, Publisher of Northern Ontario Business. “We need innovators, mentors, and risk-takers. The Influential Women of Northern Ontario program started in 1997 and since then, it has recognized the achievements of more than 100 influential females in Northern Ontario.

“I love being underground, I think it’s really neat,” said Ms Drewek. “I like getting in there and getting my hands dirty and really making a name for myself.” Cage tenders transport miners, gear and equipment to various levels of the mine and complete shaft inspections and maintenance duties.

She became interested in the mining industry while working in aviation maintenance with Wasaya Airways, which provides regular charter service between Thunder Bay and Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine in Northwestern Ontario. Ms Drewek followed up this interest by getting her hard rock common core training in Sudbury.

“I love being an electrician and I love working underground,” said Ms Hunter. Since 2005, she has worked at three Vale underground mines and four surface plants. Her goal when entering the electrical engineering program at Cambrian College in Sudbury was to be an electrician and carry on the family business – in a manner of speaking. Her father, grandfather and step-father all worked in the electrical field.

People in the mining industry are well aware about the projected number of new workers the sector needs over the next decade. The Mining Industry Human Resource Council predicts the Canadian mining industry’s hiring requirements exceed 14,500 new workers each year over the next decade.

It is good news that from 1996 to 2012, female participation in the mining industry increased by 60%. However, females account for about 16% of the mining workforce. While this is higher than many industries in the resource sector, it is below the current nation-wide participation rate of females in the Canadian workforce, which is 48%.

Women are the largest underrepresented group in the mining sector. We need more females to follow in the footsteps of Dani Drewek and Sarah Hunter and the other Influential Women of Northern Ontario.

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