Mine Your Potential conference aims to attract women to mining, nuclear sectors

Originally published by Saskatoon StarPhoenix – September 2016.

Cameco Corp. Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Officer Alice Wong addresses the 2015 Mine Your Potential Conference in Saskatoon. Photo by Cassie Cos.
Cameco Corp. Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Officer Alice Wong addresses the 2015 Mine Your Potential Conference in Saskatoon. Photo by Cassie Cos. CASSIE COS / SASKATOON

About a quarter of the people who work in Saskatchewan’s mining sector are women — more than double the national average, but not good enough, according to the organizers of a conference aimed at attracting more women to the industry.

“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.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.