OH&S News

Joanne Payne: Still going strong

Joanne Payne has been in the quarrying industry for three decades. She is the general manager of Sequel/Impact Drill & Blast, which operates in four states and one territory.

Joanne is a vice president on the IQA board and a proud supporter of the Women in Quarrying network. Sequel/Impact also sponsors the IQA’s North Queensland and South Australian branches.

Joanne is also on Cement Concrete Aggregate Australia’s (CCAA) Queensland branch committee – the only female and independent quarry owner. She recently accepted the CCAA Environmental Innovation Award for the implementation of a new explosive using recycled rubber, eliminating 100 per cent of diesel oil.

Joanne’s goal is to be a part of the IQA’s Australian Quarry Academy and to encourage all workers – young, old, male, female – to enjoy a career in the extractive industry for life.

Can you give an overview of your career?

In 1985, at age 21, I started my first business, Jo’s Plant Hire. I was hiring compaction rollers to the Cloncurry Council. The funniest thing was that the customers didn’t want to deal with this young girl on the phone. I changed it to Joe’s Plant Hire and pretended he was a bloke with the little girl in the office organising everything for him!

In 1987 I met my now husband of 30 years, Steve, and we formed Barrier Drilling and Blasting. Our first job was blasting trenches for the pipeline from Burdekin Dam to Ross River Dam between Charters Towers and Townsville. It was for Thiess and the “small” blasting job turned into a 24-hour a day operation with four air track drills and a team of shotfirers. We never looked back.

In 1999, after selling Barrier to Brandrill, we formed Sequel and we have worked in the industry together until Steve commenced his retirement about five years ago.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?

My biggest challenge was getting recognition in the industry for my work. It is improving all the time. In the early days I was flat out being allowed on site because I was a girl – usually because there was no female dunny! It was frustrating always hiding behind the “front man”, but satisfying knowing I was an integral part of the success of the family business.

What opportunities have you had in this industry that you wouldn’t have otherwise had?

I’ve been exposed to quarrying, construction, exploration, mining and seismic blasting operations. My roles have been varied and diverse, exciting and always challenging. My involvement in the IQA was not encouraged in the early years. However, I still went to some of the meetings and always to the conferences. I started to enjoy the networking and the plenary sessions more than the ladies days and shopping. So I became a member and decided to play an active role in the industry. I love the IQA and the value it gives to the extractive industry. Quarries are so important to society. I am proud to be a member of the board that is responsible for continuous improvement.

What does the WIQ mean to you?

Women in Quarrying celebrates all the women who build our industry in the background. It encourages women to stand up within their roles and challenge our male counterparts to take notice of our contributions and diversity – not just our roles and positions within our industry but in society as a whole.

Outside of work, what keeps you smiling?

My marriage but sometimes that’s a grimace! My children and my grandchildren. I love being outdoors, boating and camping – especially with family.

What does the future hold for Joanne Payne?

At 52 my future is exciting. I have embarked on a new path within my career and I have a stimulating, encouraging and ambitious partner, so life is never dull. I will continue to mentor and train our sons, Luke and Rob, to take the business into the future. I want to make a significant contribution to our industry and encourage others, both men and women, to choose quarrying as their career for life – just as I have done!

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