That is quite a strong claim! But a claim made by Debbie Ntombela, an amazing woman who is an eminent figure in mining law in South Africa – so we take notice.
Debbie heads up the mining regulatory sector at Hogan Lovells in Johannesburg and is a practitioner with an in-depth knowledge of the mining and related sectors, knowledge that she gained over many years of working with the Department of Mineral Resources and the mining industry. Her strength lies in her experience and her ability to provide seamless, integrated, practical advice and training.
She recognises that in the dynamic mining, regulatory and natural resources environment, a unique service offering is required from a person who understands the industry, the law, and the people. She assists clients, communities and government to successfully manage and address the demands and challenges of the mining industry.
Debbie was in the drafting legislation team that drafted the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002. She further drafted the Social and Labour Plan Guidelines for Department of Mineral Resources.
Debbie is a well-known and respected figure within the mining industry and a regular speaker at mining seminars and conferences. She is a board member of the Council of Geoscience and the Pan African Mining Development Company in South Africa, as well as a non-executive director at Platfields.
Fin24, Apr 24 2014, Johannesburg
Women in the mining industry face mammoth challenges, from a lack of suitable physical facilities and protective clothing, to outright sexual harassment, according to Debbie Ntombela, who specialises in mining law at Hogan Lovells.
“All over the world, mining is a male-dominated industry and I think South Africa is leading in terms of developing women in mining,” she said.
“That said, it’s a tough place to be, whether you are in the public or private sector. You always have to prove that you are 10 times better than your male counterparts.”
She said in many instances men have not really accepted that women can work in mines.
Aspects of the physical reality of mining, especially in mining operations, continue to be unwelcoming for women.
“The physical conditions women work under are often inappropriate,” said Ntombela.
“You still find ablution facilities that both genders are expected to use, creating circumstances that are ripe for harassment.”
She believes it could take another 10 years before women are truly accepted as part and parcel of the industry, especially underground.
“Women are loyal, diligent and hardworking and if there were more women in the industry, I believe we wouldn’t have all these strikes,” she said.
“The first thing we think of is, I have a child and I need my salary.”
Question is would that be good if there were less strikes from an employee rights perspective? Lots to mull over here.