Celebrating Women in Mining | Gemma Newell
We recently had the chance to catch up with Gemma Newall, Exploration Sustainability Manager at Newcrest Mining, to gain insight into her 16-year long career and the rewarding opportunities she has since experienced.
Gemma has always had a passion for working with people. Early on in her studies she was interested in exploring a career within the not-for-profit sector and had originally wanted to work in humanitarian relief.
Gemma undertook a Masters in Rural Development and for her thesis examined cooperation models between Large Scale Mining Companies, and Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASM). It was during the research for her thesis that she interviewed an ASM expert who was in the process of growing a Social Performance team within an international mining consultancy. He was keen for Gemma to join him after she had completed a stint working in Kenya.
“I knew from early on that I wanted a career that put people at the centre of my work, I also wanted to spend time living and working in different countries and cultures. However, I hadn’t envisaged that I would go from building sand dams in Kenya to working on mineral exploration projects and mine-sites. I have always taken the view that you should grab the opportunities presented to you as you never know where it might take you.”
Gemma started her mining career as a consultant working on the African continent for a range of mining companies and institutions. This was quickly followed by social performance roles in Zambia, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea and Australia, working at both a mine site and corporate level.
As an expat working on remote mine-sites overseas, Gemma gained broad and diverse experiences, and an understanding of some of the challenges that women faced in diverse cultures and contexts. This ranged from women not legally being allowed to work in some areas of the mine-sites, through to some of the societal constraints that women faced that limited their participation in the workforce.
During Gemma’s time in Papua New Guinea, she worked with both community groups and colleagues to establish initiatives that promoted women’s participation in mining. This included a site Women in Mining initiative, which went on to give female employees a stronger voice at the leadership level. From this, Gemma found her passion in supporting women in the workplace. Her interest in sustainability and caring for people, the environment, and communities became the next step in exploring her career.
Currently Gemma works as the Exploration Sustainability Manager at Newcrest. Her work is diverse, working internally with the Newcrest Exploration Team on a range of aspects, including communities, the environment, people development, health, and safety.
“I have been fortunate to work for some great managers who have supported me to have a unique and diverse career in so many parts of the world. Through my current work I also want to support others in the industry so that they too can have an exciting and engaging career.”
Part of Gemma’s current role is to work with her colleagues to develop and implement a training and development approach for both the geologists and non-geologists in the Exploration Team. This has included the establishment of a mentoring program for Exploration graduates. Gemma is excited to see the number of women in the workplace increasing, particularly amongst the younger generations.
“I’m really optimistic about the future for women in our industry. During my time in mining, I have seen a lot of positive change. However, I know there is still a lot to be done, but we must celebrate how far we have come and focus on how we continue to make mining more diverse, inclusive and a great place to work and thrive.”
Newcrest is a Major Partner for AusIMM's International Women's Day Event Series. For more inspiring inspiring initiatives, follow AusIMM on social media and the hashtag #CelebratingWomeninMining or catch up via our latest news!