PNG’s first female oxygen plant operator

A PNG women has become the first female to become an Operator in the largest Oxygen Power Plant in the Southern Hemisphere located at the Lihir Gold Mine.

Monica Tawai, 31, from New Ireland and East New Britain is now an Operator of the Air Separation Unit (ASU) Operator at the oxygen plant after joining Newcrest as a trainee.

Tawai is urging young women and girls to believe in their ability and take up more challenging roles and continue to break barriers.

“I urge more young women to pursue careers in this field. Do not look down on yourself only because you are a woman. You are able to do anything. You have to believe in yourself,” she said.

Monica joined Newcrest-Lihir as a trainee and after years of experience in the field and assisting ASU operators, she now works in the control room full time, controlling and monitoring the production of oxygen.

Her job as an operator is vital in the overall production at Lihir. The process plant require large quantities of oxygen every day to burn sulphur in the four autoclaves. The facility has four plants that use cryogenic principle for making oxygen.

This involves cooling air to liquid and then separating the gases based on their boiling points. Together Lihir four plants produce 98 percent oxygen for use in gold production.

Monica said she is thankful for the support of her male colleagues because they have assisted her greatly and challenged her positively to make it this far as an operator.

She also thanked her team for their continuous support and she said she is determined to perform confidently as an operator in the next five years.

Oxygen Plant Supervisor Steven Tom said Tawai has been an outstanding team player in the operation.

“As her supervisor, I am happy and proud to have her in my crew,” he said.

Tawai is part of an increasing number of women in the Lihir operation who are committed in taking challenging roles in male-dominated fields which the company says is part of their vision in encouraging diversity in the workforce.

Cedric Patjole