The 2019 Chamber of Minerals and Energy’s Women in Resources (CME) Awards is fast approaching with Solomon Mine Control Superintendent, April Scott, announced as a finalist for the Outstanding Young Woman in Resources award. Hear from April who discusses her career progression from dump truck driver to Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) Mine Control Superintendent at Fortescue, and the steps she takes to support and inspire other women in the workplace.
My role at Fortescue
I started my career in mining seven years ago as a dump truck driver prior to joining Caterpillar as an Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) controller. This role was based at Fortescue’s Solomon Hub which is one of the largest autonomous haulage sites in the world.
My experience at Solomon led to exciting opportunities and roles at Fortescue including Mine Controller, AHS Builder, Coordinator, Supervisor and eventually Superintendent with Fortescue. During this time I was involved in critical business milestones including Solomon becoming a fully automated operational site.
Building on the success of automation at the Solomon mine site in 2017, Fortescue announced it would expand autonomous haulage to its Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak minesites. I saw the rollout of autonomy at Christmas Creek as an exciting opportunity and was ready for a new challenge after working as an AHS controller for four years. Christmas Creek entailed a huge body of work which included training the existing control team to use both Minestar Fleet and Minestar Command, while continuing production with the existing fleet management system. I also developed and initiated training the new control team, along with delivering information sessions for the use of Minestar to mining personnel.
Recently I returned to Solomon as a Mine Control Superintendent, looking after a technical team of 65 people.
Supporting the deployment of Autonomous Haulage Technology (AHS)
I played a key role in leading my team through the expansion, conversion and optimisation of the AHS solution at Fortescue’s Solomon and Christmas Creek operations. As the first company in the world to implement Caterpillar’s AHS on a commercial scale, Fortescue is a pioneer in automating trucks and it’s been a privilege to be a part of this ground breaking automation journey. I have an absolute passion for technology and it’s been an incredible journey with Fortescue; being able to say you’re the first in the world to complete a range of milestones with Autonomous Haulage Systems.
The introduction of disruptive technology naturally caused some apprehension within our team. To combat this attitude towards the transition, I worked closely with my team by assessing opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to ensure that no one was displaced as a result of this initiative. AHS wasn’t just a change of technology but a generational change.
Active champion for women in the mining sector
I’m couldn’t be more proud of my talented and diverse team; in fact 50 per cent of the control team and 75 per cent of my leadership team are women. While the proportion of women in the mining workforce is steadily increasing, mining is still regarded as a male dominated industry and throughout my career I have worked hard to overcome gender stereotypes and workplace resistance to women in leadership. At the beginning of my career I persistently tried to get my foot in the door of the mining industry. Many people in my life didn’t support me in pursuing a career in mining by leaving a job in the finance sector. Others said mining was no place for women, while others simply weren’t convinced I could do it.
Fortunately Fortescue has been incredibly supportive in my career development, especially my leaders who have taken time out of their busy schedules to mentor and guide me through the process of becoming an effective leader. Fortescue strives to create a welcoming and encouraging environment, and increase the number of female employees and leaders to build a more inclusive culture. I’d like to think I’ve continued to provide support through my own leadership to ensure my team have the best opportunities for the future.
The CME received more than 70 nominations across the five categories for this year’s awards. Winners will be announced at a presentation dinner in Perth on Friday, 15 March 2019.