“The possibilities are never-ending!”
Meagan Fast, 34, explores new lands and looks for opportunities as a Land Access Specialist for BHP, the biggest mining company in the world. A self-described small-time farm girl, she reports to the Head of Exploration – North America, responsible for stakeholder management and community relations. Anytime the company needs to interact with a landowner or community organization, Meagan goes to work.
“It stretches across everything the mine does,” she says, “from sharing information about our plans to getting access to a road.”
“My career has been focused on community relationships,” states Meagan.
The exploration division looks for new opportunities in the southwest US and Canada. Meagan focuses on host communities, to ensure smooth integration of the mine with the community.
⅓ meeting with landowners and community stakeholders
⅓ obtaining permits, having a community presence
⅓ research, communications and internal project management.
How did you start your career in mining?
“I got into mining through community work,” Meagan explains.
With a BA degree from the University of Saskatchewan, Meagan began working at a mining company as an administrative assistant. The company sponsored massive community events in airplane hangars and Meagan kept volunteering to help.
“I was parking cars, setting up chairs, sorting bins,” she recalls, “Whatever was needed.”
Her efforts were noticed and she was offered a job in the community department. From there, she was hired by BHP and her role “kept growing and growing.”
Meagan’s been with BHP for seven years, in three divisions in three cities. Her first position was for the Potash facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada. She worked to get indigenous communities involved with BHP projects.
“We spent years building relationships with First Nations,” Meagan says, “Employment contracts, how to build communities.”
From there she went to Houston to work for the petroleum division and for the past year and a half, she works in Tucson for the exploration division.
“I’ve had to learn a lot about ranchers, Arizona culture, agriculture, cattle,” Meagan says, “but the skill set applies.”
Although it’s been somewhat of a nomadic life, Meagan says mining has given her “a global sense of community.”
Over the years, Meagan has worked on hundreds of donations and sponsored community events. In a small town in west Texas, BHP donated a 3D printer to a robotic team of 10-12 year-old boys and girls. They went on to win a national STEM competition. It was a career highlight for Meagan because of “the innovative things they did” and “the relationship BHP got to build with that team.”
What changes do you see in the mining industry?
“Company standards have changed,” says Meagan. “Society has changed.”
She expects roles like hers, that focus on social value and social licenses, to continue to grow.
“Companies can’t continue to exist within a community without having some kind of meaningful engagement,” Meagan says.
Meagan also sees a huge trend toward diversity and inclusion within mining. Companies have learned the value of gender and racial diversity in the workforce, she notes. Things run more efficiently. Productivity increases.
“When you have more ideas, the more voices at the table,”she says, “it takes it to another level.”
Advice for those seeking a career in mining
People think of mining as operational, but there is a whole other side of mining that incorporates so many professional and educational paths. Look at opportunities in functional roles such as community relations, legal, technology, supplies and human resources.
Try something new. The possibilities are never-ending. If you think you can take a stab at something, there’s a good chance that someone will let you.
A traveler, Patti Daley came to Globe in 2016 to face the heat, follow love, and find desert treasure. She writes in many formats and records travel scraps and other musings at daleywriting.com.