A NEW chairperson will lead the community forum for addressing issues relating to mining in the region, the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue (UHMD).
BHP's Sarah Withell, an experienced mining professional who lives with her family in the region, boasts a long involvement in the UHMD.
As chair, she will head the dialogue's Joint Advisory Steering Committee, which includes community, mining and government representatives.
It's an important group that provides direction for projects seeking to address issues raised by dialogue participants.
Past projects have included successful cattle grazing trials on rehabilitated mine land as well as initiatives to improve transparency, including the collection and publication of data on industry water use and mine rehabilitation performance.
Ms Withell, based at BHP's Mt Arthur Coal near Muswellbrook, is the company's head of health safety and environment business partnership - BMC and NSWEC.
The UHMD claims she's highly-regarded in the community and among her industry peers.
She was named 2019 Exceptional Woman in Mining at the NSW Women in Mining Awards and will represent NSW at the National Women in Resources Awards in September.
BHP is an engaged member of the dialogue and has a number of key people contributing to various projects and working groups.
Ms Withell said she was looking forward to her new position.
"The work of the UHMD is really important and I'm excited about this leadership role in our community," she explained.
"I've been a part of the dialogue for a number of years and it's a fantastic way for the community, regulators and industry to work together on solutions for any issues of concern.
"An important part of the UHMD is listening to the community.
"And, I'm really passionate about making sure we continue to deliver projects and information that matter most to the community."
Ms Withell also praised outgoing chair, Glencore's David O'Brien.
"He's been a great leader and contributor to the dialogue," she said.
"His commitment and involvement over the past few years has greatly contributed to the UHMD's success and continuing evolution."
NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee welcomed Ms Withell as chair and extolled the virtues of Mr O'Brien for his time in the role.
"We're grateful for David's strong guidance and leadership and the significant progress made in addressing key community concerns during his time as chair," he said.
"We recognise the significant contributions Sarah has made to the dialogue so far.
"We're looking forward to working with her in her new role as chair."