14 April 2023

Whitehaven Success at the 2023 NSW Women in Mining Awards

Whitehaven Coal employees took centre stage at the 2023 NSW Women in Mining Awards, successfully claiming one award while being represented with a finalist in another. 

Hollie Sampson, an Aboriginal Community Relations Officer in Whitehaven’s Gunnedah office, took home the prestigious Exceptional Young Woman in Mining award, an incredible achievement and the first time a Whitehaven employee has claimed the award. 

Leonie Newton from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Mine was also recognised as a finalist in the Outstanding Trade, Operator or Technician of the Year category. 

Now in its fifth year, the Awards highlight the important role women play in the mining industry and recognise the achievements of the outstanding women working in mining companies and supplier businesses. This year’s Awards ceremony took place on Thursday 30 March at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney, with Hollie, Leonie, members of their families, Whitehaven representatives and hundreds of other industry participants in attendance. 

The Exceptional Young Woman in NSW Mining Award was one of the most sought-after on the night, with the award recognising an outstanding young woman who has shown substantial promise and achieved significant milestones in her career to date. The award was richly deserved for Hollie Sampson, who has made significant contributions towards enhancing Whitehaven’s culture through her unique leadership qualities since joining as Aboriginal Community Relations Officer in 2020. 

A proud Gomeroi woman, Hollie took on a leadership role when delivering the Indigenous Mentoring Program at Maules Creek, an initiative aimed at upskilling and improving the attendance and job satisfaction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. She was also instrumental in guiding the development of Whitehaven’s Reconciliation Action Plan, ensuring it satisfied all criteria to receive official endorsement from Reconciliation Australia.

“My journey in itself – from juggling school and family in a rural community to being a valued leader at Whitehaven Coal and winning this award – represents me breaking new ground for many Indigenous women from my small town of Quirindi, and is indicative of how high women can aim when pursuing a career in mining,” said Hollie. 

“I want Indigenous women to recognise the numerous opportunities available – in mining or otherwise – and for them to feel empowered enough to take these opportunities when they are presented.” 

Leonie Newton was nominated for Outstanding Trade, Operator or Technician of the Year, an award that recognises women breaking new ground and excelling in non-traditional positions. Leonie joined Whitehaven in 2014 and spent years honing her machinery skills, which included becoming certified to operate graders, loaders, and excavators, before jumping at the opportunity to step up and manage the coal excavators at Whitehaven’s largest mine, Maules Creek. 

Today, she is the first woman in a production supervisor role at Maules Creek and is responsible for the safety, compliance, and productivity of approximately 90 staff. 

“I’m proud to be the first female production supervisor at Maules Creek,” said Leonie. “Not only am I being a role model to other women, but I’m helping to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace.” 

“We are quite a diverse workforce now, from ethnicity to gender, and I think I’ve set an example that even coming from a background that isn’t traditionally common in mining, you can still thrive.” 

Whitehaven Coal CEO and Managing Director Paul Flynn paid tribute to Hollie and Leonie and expressed his gratitude for the hard work and commitment they’ve have shown to reach the Awards. 

“The recognition both Hollie and Leonie have received from NSW Mining is a testament to not only their strong work ethic, but the positive impact they are having on our business and the broader mining sector through their efforts each and every day.” 

“Particular congratulations are in order for Hollie – receiving the Exceptional Young Woman Award is an incredible feat and all of us at Whitehaven are extremely proud of her. Receiving the endorsement of your industry peers is fantastic and one of the greatest compliments you can receive – Hollie should rightly feel very proud of what she has achieved.” 

Hollie will now go on to represent NSW at the Women in Resources National Awards, hosted by the Minerals Council of Australia in Canberra later this year. 

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