“There’s always room for improvement,” said Anne Gent, a senior environmental scientist with Cameco Corp. and the co-chair of Women in Mining and Women in Nuclear Saskatchewan (WIM/WIN), which puts on the Mine Your Potential conference.
Founded four years ago, the one-day conference at the Saskatoon Inn and Convention Centre is patterned on a similar event in Alberta intended to strengthen connections between women who work in mining and attract more women to the sector.
Gent, who left an environmental consulting firm to join Cameco about nine years ago and has co-chaired WIM/WIN for several years, said Mine Your Potential is also intended to address misconceptions about the province’s mining sector.
“I think a lot of people still have that archaic view of mining or they have a very fearful view of nuclear, and so we really want to say, ‘No, this is modern industry with excellent safety and environmental controls, so it’s an industry that you should consider.’”
In addition to keynote speaker C.D. (‘Lyn) Anglin, chief scientific officer of Imperial Metals Corp., which operates mines in B.C. and Nevada, Friday’s event will feature industry veterans, scientists and media.
Saskatoon-based speakers include Neil Alexander, executive director of the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Research at the University of Saskatchewan, and AMEC Foster Wheeler’s director of metallurgy, Chuck Edwards.
The province’s mining sector faces serious problems. Weak commodity prices have eaten into government revenues and forced companies to slash production, lay off staff and even shutter mines.
Gent said while the conference organizers and sponsors are acutely aware of the industry’s struggles, everyone involved believes Mine Your Potential’s cause is worthwhile, and that it’s an opportunity for the sector.
“There’s a variety in our industry,” she said. “Your career doesn’t have to be a sole path. There’s lots out there, and the more you network and the more you talk to people in your industry, the more opportunities that are going to present themselves to you.”