Local woman breaks barrier at mine

Bernice Suma has set the pace in the Madang Ramu NiCo Project by being the first local woman to be elevated to a managerial position.

Suma, in her late 30s, is from Rai Coast, Madang, and Finschhafen, Morobe. She joined the company as its corporate health, safety and environment assurance manager at Basamuk Refinery.

In 1998, Suma graduated as a nurse from the Lae School of Nursing. She worked as a nurse for three years with Papindo Family Drug Pharmacy in Lae, then with Dr Suebu’s Clinic in Port Moresby. From there she moved to POM Medical Services then to the Port Moresby General Hospital.

An interesting encounter happened in September of 2000, which Suma reckons was a special call from the Lord.

She was interviewed at the Jackson’s International Airport on a Friday morning and asked to fly to Lihir Island, to work for International SOS Niugini Limited, an international medical service provider.

“That was when my whole journey began to unfold,” she says.

“I was employed as an administration officer with nursing background to the reception. Basically to assist with the triaging process and ensure patients were appropriately consulted and treated, ensuring smooth flow of patients’ consultation.”

Her employer recognised her potential and sponsored her to take up studies at Divine Word University, where she completed her diploma in management in 2003.

Suma returned later to successfully complete her degree (management), majoring in corporate development. She was one of the pioneers under the flexible learning mode in 2008.

Upon her return to the organisation, she was promoted to health services administrator with ISOS, working from 2004 to 2010.

She later resigned to join the Curtain Brothers PNG in 2011 as the HR/workers compensation coordinator and later that year, joined Newcrest Mining LTD as the OHS trainer/advisor.

She resigned in 2012 to join Wafi Project (Morobe Mining Joint Ventures). She was transferred to Hidden Valley (MMJV) the following year, where she performed her role as the safety coordinator until her employment with Ramu NiCo this year (2016).

Suma’s roles and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, working with Kurumbukari Mine and Basamuk Refinery HSE management team to enhance the reputation of Ramu NiCo amongst its stakeholders. This is to ensure that the Company’s HSE management system is consistent with the mining industry’s best-practice.

She also supports the departments in the implementation of this system, and as a consequence, ongoing improvement in HSE performance.

Suma wants to set a good example for the young and upcoming female employees, especially from the mine impacted areas within Basamuk and Kurumbukari in Madang.

Moreover, the most important thing Suma had brought along with her is the know-how of the HSE systems and what she can do to help change our people’s behaviour through behaviour based safety program.

“This is the first and most important component of risk management in any organisation,” says Suma.

“By helping our people to understand the levels of safety culture behaviour and giving them the right tools to use to perform their duties safely, we will boost their morale and motivate them to help each other, and the organisation as well.”

(Bernice Suma at Basamuk Refinery)

James Kila