Mining is a tough gig. There’s long hours, dangerous conditions and an embedded culture that can be difficult to navigate.
For Tanya Gilbert, these were all just things that added to the challenge.
Tanya is a Cobar native who works as Health Safety Environment and Training Manager at CSA Mine Glencore. As an adolescent, she had done everything she could do to get out of Cobar and see what Australia had to offer, bringing her to chase an undergraduate degree in marine biology and wildlife biology at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. But life brought her back to her hometown, and now her passion is bringing her love for the environment to the mining industry.
There are not many women in mining. But on the latest episode of the Full Production podcast, Tanya told me that it didn’t bother her one bit.
“I didn’t really think about it until people asked,” she said. Tanya explained that being a woman in mining was just like anything else that she encountered in her life: you had to face it head on and realise that everything is a challenge and an opportunity to learn.
Now, that’s her biggest piece of advice for youngsters entering the industry. Don’t get cocky, or you’ll get chewed up and spat out very quickly. Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can. While nobody is perfect, everyone has something to offer you.
If you’re just entering the mining industry, or even if you’re a grizzled veteran, you know how daunting it can be to show up at a new site and not know anybody. You’re far from home, friendless and set to work insane hours.
But this is where people grow. These weeks, months and even years where everything feels so difficult and you lack the support network that you had back home — these are the times in your life that you look back on and remember as crucial stepping stones.
Tanya’s made a great living in mining and has had the chance to see much of Australia. Her travels and experience have taught her that being diplomatic is one of the best things you can do as a young miner.
People get passionate (and plenty heated) “because they give a shit,” Tanya says. The important thing is to not try and fight with everyone who has a bad attitude, but realises that they are being hot-headed because they care about what they’re arguing over.
Even in a rough-and-tumble industry like mining, empathy is a powerful tool.
Listen to my entire conversation with Tanya here.