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Women Leaders in Mining — An Interview with Myrzah Bello, VP Sustainability, O3 Mining

March 3, 2022

O3 Mining

International Women’s Month Feature — Women Leaders in the Mining Sector

An Interview with Myrzah Bello, VP Sustainability, O3 Mining

What made you want to get into the field of sustainable development? How did your career start out?

I was volunteering at Montreal’s Environmental trade show and accompanied 50 Brazilian companies that were coming. There, I met my future boss at SNC — I continued to learn about the field as I progressed in the company, further strengthening my interest in environmental issues. We were mandated to do a market study on carbon credits in Brazil, which I had extensive experience with. This is what propelled the start of my career in the field. It was while I was at SNC that I decided to pursue a Master’s in Environment. 


You hold a Master’s in Environment as well Master’s in Business— why did you think it was important to tackle environmental issues through a business lens?  

It helps translate what the consequences are to the business. Having both masters in Environment and business provides insight into how it will affect other business operations.


You’re currently the VP of Sustainable Development and Human Resources at O3 Mining, which is an important role, but this takes a lot of work…can you share some strategies for succeeding in getting where you are today?

  1. A strong team – you have to trust they have the capabilities and the skillset to deliver. Building strong relationships and both parties need to trust each other. 
  2. Continue to learn – I’m a lifelong learner and am also open to new learning opportunities. I believe that this is what opens doors as you become more well-versed in different topics and issues.
  3. Take a global approach – I have a very holistic mindset and can see how more minor actions may impact other parts of the business. Which, overall, has the potential to make stronger business strategies for the long term.


FACT CHECK: You work in an industry that is still male-dominated; what needs to change so that more women and BIPOC people enter the field?

Yes, it is a male-dominated industry. We at O3 Mining are fortunate to have a 39% female workforce, which is higher than the industry average. However, we need to continue to show that there are women and BIPOC in the industry. There is a strong perception that the majority of roles in the mining industry require heavy physical labour either in or above ground. However, there are many diverse roles involved to have a successful project. We need to continue to highlight talent in these other roles to showcase what different careers may look like in the industry. 


In the time you’ve worked in the industry, what progress have you seen on that front? 

We continue to recruit more and more women, and we have a diversity policy to ensure equal opportunity for all those who apply to O3 Mining.


You have over 20 years of experience in the climate change field. What kind of progress have you seen in that time when it comes to companies reducing greenhouse gas emissions? 

When I started working in 2001, no one really knew what greenhouse emissions were or anything related to climate change. But, if you stopped anyone in the street today, they would understand that climate change is an important global issue. There is a lot more awareness, and companies have focused their efforts on reducing their emissions. There is an increasing amount of information and subject specialists’ knowledge on this topic, which has created greater awareness and more widespread pressure for companies to report on it.


Did you ever get any pushback when consulting companies about sustainability goals?  

Being able to link plans to reduce emissions with economic gains made it much easier to convince those who had doubts or wanted to push back. Moreover, it made the benefit to the corporation abundantly more clear.


What are some tools you’ve learned in order to negotiate successfully?  

I believe empathy is a critical skill to have as a senior leader, and it has allowed me to put myself in the shoes of other people. Listening to what the other party has to say and acknowledging their point of view is the only way we can progress together. Also, by applying critical thinking skills, we can develop solutions where both you and the party will have gains.


Now that sustainability has gained a lot of traction, how are you pushing your goals forward? 

Because it gained a lot of traction, more company resources are allocated to bring the company to the next level of sustainability. This may not have necessarily been the case a few years ago. There is more corporate support for sustainability today.


What are you working on right now? 

O3 Mining is currently pursuing the social acceptability of our projects by meeting and consulting our stakeholders, and working towards permitting and developing a talent and culture strategy for employees.


What are some of the actions that you’ve put in place to facilitate achieving your sustainability goals?

We established new protocols and procedures across all pillars of ESG (environmental, social, governance) that helped us obtain the ECOLOGO certification. We published our first ESG Sustainability Report in 2021. To further support our sustainable goals, we have developed a suite of communication tools for our stakeholders, including a newsletter, blog, and Facebook page, in addition to holding regular meetings with the community members of Val-d’Or and other stakeholders.


What’s one piece of advice you’d give to women wanting to enter this field?

Keep an open mind – you have no choice. Things change quickly, and you have to be able to adapt. Keeping an open mind will help you in the adaptation process. 


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