Melissa Patt arrived at Roy Hill and Port Hedland Industries Council one-and-a-half years ago with 25 years’ experience as an environmental scientist.

A member of PHIC’s management committee, Melissa has an environmental degree and a post graduate degree in law and risk.

Substantial achievements for a person who “almost become a lawyer but it was too much reading”.

Melissa has worked in government, as a private consultant, and in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

“I came back to mining because my interest was in land-based activity whereas oil and gas was mostly offshore,” Melissa said.

For a time, there were many challenges as the oil and gas industry globally responded, firstly, to the 2009 oil spill and fire on the Montara wellhead platform drill rig in the Timor Sea – one of Australia’s worst environmental disasters – and then the 2010 Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico – the largest marine oil spill in history.

While working at Chevron, Melissa led the development and documentation of the company’s Australia’s Oil Spill Preparation and Response Strategy and all associated systems, risk management, Environmental Impact Assessment, processes and methodologies for the Australian assets.

She also established and chaired the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s Industry Working Group, focusing on oil spill contingency planning, covering dispersants, spill modelling, scientific monitoring, and oiled wildlife recovery.

Working in her first full-time job as a customs broker and freight forwarder, she never thought she would work in the resources sector. While the job was interesting initially, it soon was a case of “play and repeat”.

“Working in the environmental field is much more interesting and challenging,” she said.

As Environment Manager at Roy Hill with a team of 25, she is engaged in environmental approvals, compliance, ecological monitoring, training, rehabilitation and mine closures, incident management and environmental risk management across port and rail operations.

She says it is her combined knowledge and experience that brings benefits to PHIC and the Port Hedland community.

“While working in government I dealt with issues related to dust, and from my broad experience I have worked with regulators and community members,” Melissa said.

“I understand the benefits of working with communities – and that’s something that PHIC and industry does successfully in Port Hedland.

“I care about the environment, for our future and mental health wellbeing and I want to ensure that industry and people pose the least risk to the environment as possible.

“We should appreciate the beautiful place we live in. The environment can manage itself; we manage people.”

Having that work recognised by those outside the environment team gives Melissa the greatest satisfaction, along with supporting her team and helping them to succeed.

But life is not all about work, so for Melissa, who is married and who has children aged 19 and 17, cycling (“not the lycra type”), dog walking and getting the most from her involvement in the Mt Lawley Inglewood Community Garden.

Melissa was on the management committee for four years and helped to establish the 1800m2 garden with the City of Stirling.

And on the bucket list? Visiting the Grand Canyon, seeing the Northern Lights, and running boarding kennels for dogs.