In 1971, Joan Bath unwittingly made history by enrolling in the School of Mining Engineering at the University of NSW. Four years later, with first class honours, she was the first female to graduate as a Mining Engineer in Australia. At that time, it was illegal for women to work underground, which did not change until the second half of the 1980s.
For the first years, only city-based office employment was available; however, in 1981 Joan moved to the Ranger Uranium Mine as Mine Planning Engineer and continued with open cut mine site employment for the majority of her career in both production and technical services roles. She has worked throughout Australia in a range of commodities including uranium, bauxite, gold, mineral sands, base metals, construction stone and iron ore. Many of these operations were technically challenging and environmentally sensitive.
In 1986, Joan became the first female to be awarded a Western Australian Quarry Manager’s Certificate of Competence, once again an Australian first. Then there was a twelve month wait for a print run of Quarry Manager’s Certificates that did not say ‘He has achieved’.
Towards the turn of the century, she moved to consulting/contracting roles and continued with this until her retirement in 2015.
Joan has seen many changes in the mining industry over her career. She believes that the two changes having the greatest impact are the development of computer-based mine planning packages and the introduction of fly in, fly out work, with associated 12-hour shifts.
The increase in the number of women employed in the mining industry has also led to more balanced operations and it is excellent to see the number of women now stepping into company director roles.
Joan is now greatly enjoying retirement in country Western Australia, but maintains links with the mining industry compiling feasibility style studies under the CSA Global Ltd banner on a casual basis.