Soraya Madera, Chief Engineer, Barrick Pueblo Viejo

Soraya Madera: Unlocking the True Potential of Mining Business

Mining has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.  To increase diversity and unlock the true potential of human talent, mining companies should be committed to helping increase the number of women not only on their mines and wider industry, but also to help upskill and economically empower women throughout their communities of interest.

This is the critical for any sustainability strategy that any company put in place in the 21st century. At Barrick, which mission is to be the world’s most valued gold mining business by finding, developing, and owning the best assets, with the best people, to deliver sustainable returns for our owners and partners, this is not the exception. When they refer to the best people, they talk about men and women, equally. This is particularly important as one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, motivates to people, companies, and nations to create environments with gender equality.

At all sites of Barrick, there are many talented women who are leading the way to a more diverse and inclusive mining industry. Soraya Madera, who is Chief Engineer at Barrick Pueblo Viejo, in the Dominican Republic, is one of them.

Soraya’s role is to lead the engineering team focused on ensuring mine development and sustainability. She believes that overseeing the short term and the long-term future of the mine helps to make the right decisions on time to allow the unlocking of the true potential of the business.

Pueblo Viejo is located in the Dominican Republic, approximately 100 kilometers northwest of the capital city of Santo Domingo, and is operated by the Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation, a joint venture between Barrick (60%) and Newmont (40%).  The company’s workforce is 97% Dominican, whose 16% is female. At the beginning of this year, the conversion to natural gas of Quisqueya 1, the power plant that supplies the mine, was successfully commissioned. This will reduce greenhouse gases by 30% and nitrogen oxide by 85%, further reducing Pueblo Viejo’s impact on the environment.

In an interview with Insights Success, Soraya Madera shares about her journey and about her contribution to the mining industry through Barrick Pueblo Viejo.

Below are the highlights of the Interview:

Being a Chief Engineer, what is your opinion regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Mining & Metals Industry? And how has Barrick managed to overcome this significant challenge?

Covid-19 has forced the mining industry to reinvent itself. From reviewing the different responsibilities and jobs within the operations and developing new ways of working together and being safe; to go even further in our optimizations and innovation plans to ensure that the industry continues to deliver value.

Barrick Safety-first culture has helped us to effectively and rapidly implement new protocols that ensured business continuity. Acting fast and agile has helped Barrick to deliver the plan even with the impact of the pandemic, ensuring a safe and productive environment. 

What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?

It is in our values. A positive work culture is necessary to ensure ownership among the employees.

In my role, I make sure to promote the company values with proper collaboration and communication. The big challenge is how the world is so connected right now and the different cultures are working together. With this, the focus is on making sure the positive environment is maintained with respect to the people, their culture, and beliefs.

What truth everyone needs to know about Mining industry making it safer and more efficient for people and the planet?

Continuous improvement and constant change are the way to go in Mining. I believe there are still people that see mining with the eyes in the past. The mine sector has evolved in a way were the safety and well-being of people and the planet is the priority and that is a strong responsibility of each person who works at our mine. This ensures sustainability of the business, and is proven that you can be safe, take care of the environment and continuously deliver value.

In what ways have you or Barrick contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring in substantial productivity of Mining?

One of our core values is to earn our social license by being a value member of our host communities. We have teams dedicated to the support and development of the communities, by listening, understanding the needs, and creating plans to help fulfill them, we drive our business with the communities by being a partner and key Stakeholder.

Where are you focusing your energy now, and where do you hope to make an impact next? What is your vision for Barrick for the next five years?

My focus is the Pueblo Viejo expansion project. This expansion will bring substantial value to all our stakeholders by extending the life of the mine and the potential to increase our reserves.  Also, in developing the team to prepare for the future. There are new generations coming into the mining industry that has the capacity to reinvent the business with great ideas.

My vision is that we have the potential to become the most valuable mining company. This through empowering the partnership with our host countries to strengthen and sustain the mining industry.

What would be your advice for aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs in the Mining Industry?

Visualize a career path and work it with passion. In my opinion, it is important to focus on professional development but also to act with ownership and integrity. I have been part of Barrick Pueblo Viejo for more than a decade and looking back to my first years, I can say that dedication, teamwork, listening, determination, and prioritizing business needs have been key in my journey.