June 19, 2022 - Rocks are coming down drills are working all across Arizona. For some, women in mining might not be something that you typically think about, but it's a big deal for mining engineer Liz Diaz.
“When you think of electronics, they all have parts of the mining industry in it. We want to be as inclusive and diverse as we can,” Diaz said.
Drawing in new female workers into the field of mining is exactly what Diaz and University of Arizona Co-Director of the Geotechnical Center of Excellence Julia Potter is trying to do. The women are part of an organization called “Women in Mining”. The goal of the group is to educate and get more women interested in the field. There are currently 12 W.I.C chapters across the country, the Tucson Chapter was formed back in 1974.
"We want to focus on bringing young girls into the industry. Let them know that they can go into an industry where they can get themselves dirty. Go out there with operators and men and prove they can do the same things,” Diaz said.
Potter says it's not just about the mining process, engineers, consultants, geologists and others are part of the mix.
Last year the UArizona created the School of Mining and Mineral Resources to keep the momentum going and improve negative perceptions about the industry.
Potter says on average women typically leave mining after about 7 years on the job.
I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding that mining isn't part of that clean energy and clean future. When it’s reality that kind of future isn’t possible without mining. We need copper, lithium, cobalt for batteries. Materials for wind turbines, solar panels all of those materials are mined,” Potter said.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, right now 15.8% of miners working in the field are women.
"If we don’t continue to educate and show off all of the good stuff that’s being done in the industry it will quickly get overshadowed and forgotten,” Diaz said.