CQ mum’s innovation revolutionised underground coal mining

A NEW found love of IT and pure determination pushed a Central Queensland mum to develop a new system which has her up for a national award.

Larnie Mackay, 45, has been named a finalist in the BHP 2020 Women in Resources National Awards.

The mum of three daughters, who has been working in the mining industry for 25 years, is one of five finalists up for the inaugural Maptek Women in Resources Technological Innovation Award.

Ms Mackay has been recognised for pioneering digitisation of underground coal mining at Anglo American's Moranbah North mine.

After developing a love for IT, she found a passion for speeding up processes and had a vision of making things quicker and more efficient for underground mine workers.

Using tablets, she worked to convert paper based data processes to digital, allowing underground workers to have quick access to process and information and update ground staff continuously, rather than waiting until the end of a shift.

"If they need support, they can let us know what's happening and we can provide genuine assistance right there and then."

Larnie Mackay has been named a finalist in the BHP 2020 Women in Resources National Awards, for the Maptek Women in Resources Technological Innovation Award.
Larnie Mackay has been named a finalist in the BHP 2020 Women in Resources National Awards, for the Maptek Women in Resources Technological Innovation Award.

Throughout the journey, Ms Mackay said she was essentially told to "give up on your dream" because it was never going to happen.

"There was a lot of resistance. A lot of people telling me it wouldn't work," she said.

"When it was certified, a few disbelievers said it'll never actually happen but it was one of the fastest implementations ever.

"My (underground) boys just love it and think it's fantastic.

"This is recognition for all the hard work - it was worth it."

She said to take out the award would be the absolute pinnacle, knowing she made happen what seemed impossible.

"I keep saying to my (daughters), there's no such thing as the word 'can't', there is always a way.

"Sometimes being a woman in a male dominated industry can have its hurdles but the mining industry is very supportive and the support I've got from my underground guys has been phenomenal.

"It's just lovely to provide something back that's a positive change for everyone and it will continue on into the future."

The BHP 2020 Women in Resources National Awards recognise and promote resource company policies and achievements in attracting, training, encouraging and promoting women.

Ms Mackay is one of 37 finalists across the six award categories.

Minerals Council of Australia is hosting and presenting the awards in partnership with the state chambers to promote the Australian resources sector as an industry of choice for women to pursue diverse highly-paid, highly-skilled career opportunities.

In 2019, Australian mining directly employed 243,000 people - including 40,000 women, up from fewer than 9,000 who worked in the industry in 2001.

While women in mining represent only 16 per cent of the workforce, the industry continues to take encouraging steps in recent years to attract more women.

Winners will be announced in an online award ceremony to be broadcast on YouTube at 3.30pm on Wednesday, September 16. Register online to watch the ceremony.

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