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Taking The Leap: Belén Vergara’s Journey From Chile to Canada

Belén Vergara still remembers the moment she learned she would be moving from Chile’s largest city, Santiago, to the small Northwestern Ontario township of Emo to work at New Gold’s Rainy River Mine. She was the first candidate placed as part of the Artemisa Mining Challenge which strives to pair Canadian mining companies with Chilean women seeking early-stage career opportunities.

“I was working at a copper mine in Chile as a geomechanical engineer,” said Belén. “[Artemisa] called me in October 2021 and they were so excited to tell me I had an interview with New Gold. I moved to Canada and started working at Rainy River Mine in June 2022.”

The initiative is a partnership between Artemis Project and Red de Ingenieras de Minas Chile (RIM), a networking group for Chilean women in mining engineering.

“All businesses, including mining, have the responsibility to respect human rights by eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and promoting gender justice,” says Heather Gamble, co-founder of Artemis Project. “We are extremely happy to see how Canadian mining companies like New Gold took decisive action in supporting this ‘non traditional’ talent program in mining.”

Belén learned of the opportunity through her participation in RIM, where she sought support and comradery while navigating the mining industry in Chile. She jumped at the opportunity to prove that her skills and know-how could be applied in Canadian mining, too.

“I knew I needed guidance, because this is a very male-dominated industry,” she said. “A lot of my colleagues in my previous jobs encouraged me to do it. I had nothing holding me back. it has been very rewarding to say I have the skills to work as an engineer in another country.”

Originally working on a business improvement project to enhance collaboration across departments, Belén quickly became integrated across the Rainy River Mine site, developing relationships with people across the company. Now working as a mining engineer-in-training, her love for operations has only grown as she works to support efficient and safe production at Rainy River Mine.

“People grow in their careers because they’ve been mentored by people. I’m here because of my skills, but also because of what people saw in me, and I’m still here because of it.”

Belén Vergara

More than just a career move however, she sees her decision to leave Chile as a defining moment in her development—one that she looks back on with pride, knowing the impact she is having on other women who are in her position.

“I hear people saying they were too scared to take opportunities all the time, and I worried if I was ready enough to take the step,” says Belén. “It has been very rewarding to say I have the skills to work as an engineer in another country, and it hit me that sometimes I do feel like a role model. Regardless of whether you’re a woman or young person, you can reach higher in your career.”