One Woman’s Path in MiningBy Eurídice Salomé González | Mon, 04/05/2021 - 09:10
I am 51 years old, Sinaloense, a mother of two daughters, Alejandra and Karena, with two grandchildren, José Leonel, who was born two years ago, and Obed, born a year ago. With women’s month just ended, allow me to share a little bit about my path in mining in Mexico.
I started my professional life as an English teacher in elementary school, high-school and college. I was certified as an English Teacher by Cambridge University and worked for eight years in education. Searching for a better quality of life for my family, I changed careers and started working in a mining company in 2002 as a process assistant, responsible for all the information that was being generated from the test facilities, breakers, leach pads, solution pools, chemical plants, water supply/control and chemical reagents. After that, I worked in management and became an exploration drafting technician, storage manager and exploration coordinator.
When I entered, mining was totally unknown to me, but I had the privilege of learning a lot along the way through different assignments and different levels of responsibilities. I was really impressed by the great effort that is required to obtain minerals from the earth and see it in a finished product. Without a doubt, mining captivated me.
During that time, I had the opportunity to study law at TecMilenio University as well as an Economic Development Course at the John F. Kennedy Government School at Harvard. In 2013, I founded the Mexican Mining Business Counsel in Sinaloa, then the Sinaloa Mining Cluster and in 2016, I was invited to join “International Women in Mining” and to launch the organization in the country, which we call Mujeres WIM de México.
Today, I work as Country Manager Mexico for Coeur Mining, an American corporation based in Chicago and with about 2,000 employees at five mines: Kensington Alaska, Rochester Nevada, Wharf South Dakota, Silvertip Canada, and Palmarejo Mexico Coeur Mexicana.
Coeur Mexicana has about 900 employees, of which 90 percent work in on-site operations and the rest work in management and exploration. Seventy-two percent are from the state of Chihuahua. The Palmarejo mine is a gold-silver mine that began operating in 2009. It began as both an open pit and underground mine, but has been only underground for the last several years. The operation has a tailings dam, and a floating and filtering process to recover minerals. The department of exploration works alongside the operation to expand known zones of mineralization, and also explores for new discoveries near the mine, all in an effort to extend the mine’s lifespan.
Our social responsibility policy is tied to our corporate policy, of which subjects like gender equality, diversity and inclusion are a core part.
Our CEO, Mitch Krebs, is the first CEO in the precious metal mining industry in America to be a signatory of an initiative called CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, which as the name suggests, calls on executives to act to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Seventy women occupy different positions in Coeur Mexicana, including country management, administration, finances, legal, processes and mining geology, as well as mining exploration, heavy machinery maintenance, resource modulation, underground mining, control room instrumentation, laboratory, land access, and metallurgy, doctors and nurses, accounting, social responsibility, environment, human resources, supply chain, dining room and quartermaster.
Our policies, centered on zero tolerance for discrimination, harassment prevention, and ethical conduct, help us define the commitment of the company in regard to gender equality and protection of people. The company does not allow any form of discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. Similarly, sexual harassment is prohibited and sanctioned. In the policies corresponding to hiring practices, equal opportunity is given in our recruitment process and personnel is hired solely based on their qualifications.
Among other women initiatives and practices, we have:
- Specific areas at camp for women.
- Flexibility when agreeing on the dates of maternity leave, allowing our women employees to spend more time with their newborn babies.
- Accumulation of hours to be used for lactation periods during the months established by law, to allow employees to take full days of rest to spend with their babies.
Why then do we not have more women in the industry?
At Coeur, we believe in a dual approach to attracting women to our company. 1) We partner with wonderful organizations like WIM to host various events and educate members on why we are a different mining company that is committed to being flexible, inclusive and promotes women. While only 12 percent of our total population is female, 66 percent of those women are in leadership positions. And we look at pay equity annually to make sure women with the same tenure and position are paid the same as their male colleagues. 2) We educate younger women through partnership with our local schools and communities about mining as a career. We offer internships (last year 50 percent were female), apprenticeships and scholarships.
We focus on taking care of the female population we have and educating women who may not know mining is a viable career path in order to continue to grow our female workforce.
We recognize that the participation of women contributes to economic development, providing new abilities and creativity for companies. Every day, this contribution is increasing. We recognize that women promote collective work and innovation increases as a result of their contribution of new ways of getting things done, making companies more competitive.
The business world increasingly is relying on inclusive policies that are generating initiatives that allow more women to participate in the economic sector.
Despite our geographical location, with the traditional culture in the region, Coeur Mexicana has the firm social commitment of supporting gender equality and diversity. As for society in general, there is still work to do to create equal opportunities for women.