Awareness and diversity have a crucial role in safekeeping the mining sector’s future

Awareness and diversity have a crucial role in safekeeping the mining sector’s future

The Norwegian Mineral Industry seems to have taken the pulse of the modern society, inviting more and more women to invest their skills in the sector’s strengthening, future and sustainability. This optimistic message is conveyed by an important representative of the Norwegian ecosystem, Anita Helene Hall, Board Member of Aggregates Europe (UEPG) and Secretary General of Norsk Bergindustri - Trade Association for the entire Norwegian mineral industry. As she mentions, there are, still, miles to go but the increasing number of women entering this professional field proves the track is right.

Q.: The extractive sector is a particularly demanding professional area with a profile that supports modern technological trends yet, identified more by its conservative structure in terms of administration and operations. How/why did you choose this sector as a career path?

Anita Helene Hall:  I must admit that it was never part of a premeditated plan to start working in the mineral industry. When I was asked to take the job as head of the branch association, this was a relatively unknown sector for me. I soon discovered that I was entering a very exciting industry which has both long traditions, is very up-to-date and high-tech and which is absolutely crucial for society's future development.

As head of the national association for the mineral industry in Norway, my job is administrative and political. It is important that my team and I focus on framework conditions for the sector, make sure that the industry has the best conditions for the most sustainable operation possible and otherwise keep updated on what is happening in Europe and the rest of the world.

Q.: Tell us a little about your experience as a professional in the extractive sector. What challenge(s) have you encountered, hitherto, in your work environment?

Anita Helene Hall: The mineral industry is still very male-dominated. However, as a woman, I have never experienced any challenges in relation to this, either with our member companies, in international contexts or against authorities or others.

In general, in my working career I have not personally experienced any special challenges related to being a woman. Of course, this does not mean that such challenges do not exist or that women do not experience unpleasant situations in their work situation. My situation is that I am a boss and work in an office environment. Women who have more practical work in the mineral industry and who work in a more male-dominated environment may have different experiences.

I have not personally experienced any special challenges related to being a woman, but I am a boss and work in an office environment. Women who have more practical work in the mineral industry and who work in a more male-dominated environment may have different experiences.

Q.: What we acknowledge and welcome in recent years, is an attempt of the mining industry to set up a direct and meaningful communication channel with the modern societies that are more aware of the sector's pros and cons. In this context, albeit at a gradual pace, women are entrusted with executive level jobs. What are your thoughts about inclusion and diversity in the mining environment?

Anita Helene Hall: Today, women are welcomed into the mineral industry in Norway. An effort is made to arrange workplaces so that women can also feel at home and comfortable. However, these workplaces are traditionally very male-dominated and there is still a way to go in terms of attitudes, jargon and approach to women in some places. But we are certainly on the right track, and we see that more and more young women are choosing a career in this branch.

Norwegian Mineral Industry has a popular trainee scheme where we recruit young people when they have finished their studies. They are employed in trainee positions in our member companies for a two-year period. It is nice to see that more than half of our trainees are women.

When it comes to societies awareness to the mineral industry and its pros and cons it is surprising to observe how unknown the sector is to most people. The products from this industry are absolutely essential for our modern society, while people are not aware of where these raw materials come from. There is also little knowledge of how the sector operates and it is unpopular to have mineral companies in your neighbourhood. This also affects our politicians and their willingness to stand up for the industry. Fortunately, we seem to sense a change in these things now, people are starting to gain more awareness of how important the branch is to our modern life and the green shift.

Norwegian Mineral Industry annually conduct an attitude and knowledge survey in relation to the mineral industry among the Norwegian population. Here, unfortunately it turns out that it is especially young women in big cities who are least familiar with and most skeptical of the branch. One of our tasks will therefore be to provide general information about why the mineral industry exists and how it contributes to our lives. Norwegian Mineral Industry will carry out a large marketing campaign in the public space in 2023 and it is, particularly, women that we aim to reach in the campaign. 


The Norwegian mineral industry ensures that our modern world can function

Q.: What are the «critical raw materials» for a woman in this sector to maintain the difficult but essential work-life balance?

Anita Helene Hall: It is important to set boundaries in your own life. It is easy to get carried away and lose control over your own workload, areas of responsibility, what you stand for and what you accept as an influence on your own person, both privately and at work. My appeal to everyone, both women and men, is to be the boss in your own life! 


Anita Helene Hall has served as Secretary General of Norsk Bergindustri (Norwegian Mineral Industry) since May 2018. She has built up a new organization, focused on the future for the mineral industry in Norway. Not least, this involves a broad effort to help the industry improve framework conditions as well as to become more sustainable and environmentally focused. To achieve this, the industry needs co-operation across borders, and participation in Nordic and European organizations is an important part of this work.


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