Breaking the Lonsdaleite Ceiling: Women in the REE Industry
For women in business, forget all you’ve heard about the glass ceiling – in the Rare Earths industry, it’s more like a Lonsdaleite Ceiling. Tougher than diamonds, Lonsdaleite is the hardest material on Earth, and metaphorically the toughest managerial barrier for women to crack in the REE sector.
This week, two events prompted these thoughts on the status of women in the rare earths industry. The first is the milestone marked by InvestorIntel publisher Tracy Weslosky, who serves on the Advisory Board of Frontier Rare Earths and is the founder of REEL – the Rare Earths Leaders Index (www.REE-Stocks.com) – whose flagship property Pro-Edge Media celebrated its 12th year in existence. As for the second event, as I write, Natalie Chapman, Corporate Communications chief at Australia’s Alkane Resources, is making the trek from Sydney to New York City to receive a prestigious Stevie Award recognizing Women in Business. In addition to her work with Alkane, Natalie is a Renaissance woman, having founded gemaker, driving force behind the commercialization of ICT technologies and Intellectual Property management protocols.
In the finance domain, privately-held, North Dakota-based Rare Earth Salts – seeking to secure a spot in the REE value chain as a separation company – has tapped Kayla Brewer for the position of Chief Financial Officer. Focus Graphite CFO Judith Mazvihwa-MacLean, a geologist who holds multiple Master’s degrees, has held Board positions at Logan Resources and Acme Resources.
At Rare Element Resources in Wyoming, Robbin Lee serves as IR chief, drawing on her experience with Echo Bay Mines, PolyMet Mining and Atlas Corp.
Moving from management to REE Boards, there’s Frontier Rare Earths’ Anu Dhir, a lawyer by profession with vast and varied experience with private equity and publicly-held companies not only in the REE sector, but across the mining, oil and gas and technology sectors. Anu serves on the boards of South African platinum miner Anooraq Resources and Compass Asset Management in Kazakhstan – and is currently Managing Director of Miniqs Limited, a private resource project incubator. Then there’s Laura Lynch with Texas Rare Earths (whom I serve as an Advisory Board member), a partner at the CL Ranch, which is active in the mining and distribution of gypsum.
As this column makes clear, when it comes to women in the rare earths sector — it’s a short list, which should give leaders of female-free REE companies long pause to ponder whether they’re cutting themselves off from a key source of industry acumen.
To turn back to the metaphor with which I began, for rare metals wonks, Lonsdaleite is an allotrope of carbon with a hexagonal lattice, first identified in 1967 during tests conducted on chunks of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, which hurtled into modern-day Arizona about 50,000 years ago. But for women in the rare earths sector, the key fact is that Lonsdaleite is named for pioneering crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale, first female Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society and first woman president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. It’s a fitting metal-metaphor for the few women who’ve broken the management barrier in the REE industry – and for the others who will follow their lead.
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