SHE was the first woman in South Africa to obtain a mine manager certificate of competency in coal mining at a time when it was illegal for women to work underground, and this week Katherine du Preez achieved another milestone after becoming Queensland’s first female Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health.

The role, which was created in 2009, involves reporting to the Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham on all mines safety and health issues, monitoring legislation, ensuring the independence of the Mines Inspectorate, and advocating safety on behalf of the state’s mine workers.

Minister Lynham said Mrs Du Preez brings more than 16 years of experience in operational mining in South Africa and Queensland to the important position.

“She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering and was identified as the best person for the job following a global recruitment process and consultation with industry and union representatives,” he said.

“Mrs du Preez’s experience and expertise is welcome as government works with unions and industry to implement its five point action plan to tackle the re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.”

Speaking to Australian Regional Media following her appointment, Mrs du Preeze said she looks forward to working closely with industry, government and unions on the health issue commonly referred to as ‘black lung disease’, adding that she wants to maintain Queensland’s ‘high safety standard’.

Mrs du Preez’s appointment follows mining engineers Julie Devine and Bryony Andrews last year becoming the first women on the Queensland Mining Board of Examiners.

She will commence the role next week.