Women in Mining has been on the agenda all throughout August in South Africa

Published: 26/08/2014

If you add to that the Mining Lekgotla that was held on the 13-14 of August, there have been an unusual high number of articles that appeared in the press about women in mining in South Africa in the last month. It is, therefore, only fitting that we dedicate a long recap to women in mining in South Africa.

Mining major tackles women in mining

KHANYISILE KWEYAMA: A lot still needs to be done in the industry to attract more women to the mining profession

KHANYISILE KWEYAMA<br /><br /> A lot still needs to be done in the industry to attract more women to the mining profession<br /><br />

By: Bruce Montiea, MiningWeekly, 1st August 2014
Diversified mining major Anglo American plans to have a significant impact on this year’s Mining Lekgotla, with women in mining as one of the issues that executive director Khanyisile Kweyama aims to highlight.
“We are the most diversified company in the mining industry and, globally, we have been acknowledged as the mining company that has the most women on its board, with women occupying 23% of the management positions in the company. Therefore, we can share lessons on how to approach diversity in the industry,” she explains.
“Anglo American wants to contribute to the process because we have 100 years of experience in the mining industry . . . and . . .  when the lekgotla started [in 2012], we deemed it necessary to be involved, as it is a forum that discusses the future of the mining industry.”
The Mining Lekgotla will profile the successes of women leaders in mining, such as Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, executive chairperson, cofounder and first female mine owner of Kalagadi Manganese, the black economic-empowerment company that holds the right to mine manganese near Hotazel, in the Northern Cape. Mashile-Nkosi will be a panelist and speaker at the lekgotla.
Still, Kweyama stresses that a lot still needs to be done in the industry to attract more women to the mining profession – particularly to the mining technical engineering sector.
While most mining companies have done a lot to attract women to the industry through tertiary education bursaries and training programmes, the process of attaining more technically skilled women remains a key challenge facing the sector. Kweyama adds that, while some women do not remain in the industry for long, others are simply not interested in working in the sector.
“Therefore, this topic of attracting women to and retaining their skills in the industry is one that the lekgotla should be promoting,” she says, adding that the discussions will identify key problems and focus on practical solutions.
Kweyama believes the skills gap and lack of experience in certain areas contribute further to the small pool of women in mining, which makes it difficult to appoint women in management and technical engineering positions.
Further, she notes that if the Mining Charter audit identifies that compliance in appointing a certain number of women in mining is still lagging, mining companies will need to produce accelerated and revised plans to fill the required numbers, in accordance with the Mining Charter.
Kweyama points out that women representation is calculated as part of the economically active population ratios within the 40% target for 2014 for each management level in the revised Mining Charter. For example, at Anglo American, where Kweyama is executive director for the South African business, the statistics for women as at the end of May comprised 18% of women in core management functions, 13% of women in ‘total women in core’, including non-managerial roles, and 23% of women in management. “I hope that we will home in on the technical fields at the lekgotla and that we will provide specific action plans for mining companies to improve on transformation.” She adds that, to attract women to the mining industry, action, such as improving the number of women with mathematics and science skills and maintaining women’s interest in these disciplines, should start early, such as at the primary and secondary education stages, and should be implemented and focused on through to tertiary level. Kweyama highlights that there has been a significant increase in the number of women working in the mining industry since the start of democracy. She tells Mining Weekly the industry is close to meeting the original Mining Charter’s 10% transformation requirement, adding that certain companies have exceeded this requirement.
“Nevertheless, it is the magic mark of women filling 20% in the technical engineering sector that we are not quite achieving. While there has been improvement, it needs to increase to at least 20%,” she says.

This is an extract, to read the full article go to 

Celebrating SA mining’s most inspirational women

By Chamber of Mines, 04 Aug 2014

In celebration of Women’s Month, we asked some of South African mining’s most inspirational women to share their stories. Discover what it takes to be successful in an industry that makes up almost 20% of our economy.

LERATO MOLEBATSI, Executive VP Communications & Public Affairs, Lonmin

Head-hunted from a previous position in government, Lerato’s role involves overseeing the brand and its reputation. From corporate communication to community involvement, she is the ‘voice’ of Lonmin.

‘I am pleased to see so many young women in mining today. They are coming in as engineers and geologists and changing the face of mining as we know it. The more women we have in mining, the more mainstream the idea will become which will be great. Experience tells us that the more diversity you have in an industry and in a company, the more likely that organisation will succeed and innovate.’

Do you feel the mining companies are doing enough to facilitate women in mining? What do you think needs to be done?
‘Initiatives by government such as the South African Women in Mining Association (SAWIMA) have done a lot to help women get into the industry. Mining has been demystified and we are seeing more and more women choosing careers in mining as a first choice. It is becoming mainstream albeit at a slow pace but it’s a good start.’

Would you encourage young women to pursue a mining career? What one piece of advice would you give them?
‘I think women should enter any industry they wish to, including mining. This is an exciting industry with many opportunities not just limited to the ‘hard sciences’. Women are doing well in the industry and we need a critical mass of women in mining to change the culture and allow for women to get into executive positions. For that to happen, we need women with the requisite skills and qualifications to take on this challenge.’

AUDREY NOMA CLARE, Superintendent – Sibanye Gold

From kitchen cleaning staff, to bursary student, to climbing the finance ranks – Audrey is one of mining’s self-made success stories. Find out how she balances managing the homes of hundreds of miners as well as her own.

Describe an average day at work
‘My average day involves interacting with hostel resident committees and addressing any issues that have been raised by the residents. I attend to incident reports from mine security and follow-up on maintenance reports to make sure things like cleanliness and access control are being properly managed.
I also attend stakeholder meetings, oversee contractors and supervise all of the hostel staff to ensure that the mine’s policies and procedures are being followed – it’s a busy day!’

What attracted you to mining and how did you get into it?
‘My son was my motivation as I needed to provide for him. After Matric I was looking for a job and found one as a cleaner at the Sibanye academy. A year later I moved to cleaning the single quarters so I could teach part-time at abet in the mine.
It was there that I learned about the bursary programme and enrolled at the university of Johannesburg for a 3 year national diploma in business administration. The mine paid my salary and the bursary took care of the tuition. I was then appointed administrator for the academy and in the same year enrolled for a b tech, the rest, as they say, is history.’

Would you encourage young women to pursue a mining career? What one piece of advice would you give them?
‘Definitely. I would advise them to be professional in the workplace, not to be intimidated by their male colleagues and to be firm and stand for what they believe in.’

MARIAN VAN DER WALT, Executive Corporate & IR, Harmony

Over the last 19 years Marian has quickly out-grown her first role of answering phones in reception. Now chief Brand Ambassador, her job involves managing and protecting the Harmony brand in every form.

What is your favourite part of the job?
‘Making a difference and challenging the status quo. My job allows me to engage with a number of stakeholders – from staff to shareholders – it really allows me to be exposed to the ‘bigger’ picture and see my contribution make a real difference.’

What has your experience been like and what are some of the unique challenges faced by women in a traditionally male-dominated industry?
‘When I started working at Harmony, only 2% of the workforce was female – now we are at 20%. It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in, I firmly believe that one should retain your femininity, stand up for what you believe in and earn your colleague’s respect through integrity and hard work.’

Do you have a family? How do you balance being a mother, a wife and a miner?
‘Having married a wonderful, supportive husband definitely makes it easier to manage my career and personal life. If you love what you do, your job feels like an extension of who you are. I chose a career that stimulates and fulfils me and I work for a company whose values I associate with. Harmony’s values are my values. We take care of each other.
My own family remains very important to me. They have a great interest in what I do, the industry and how South Africa is impacted by everything that is said about the industry. ‘Balance’ to me means making sure you live in the moment and give everything and everyone your best!’

Women’s role in mining

Jincom Celebrates Women in Mining and Construction

08 August 2014, view it online here
Every August, South Africa celebrates the contribution women have made to the social and political development of the country. Similarly, mining and construction attaches significant importance to the rights of women working in the industry. As specialists in developing communications solutions for semi-literate audiences, Jincom (a communication services company) full heartedly supports this.

Historically, the South African mining industry has been a male-dominated sector. Employment of women in this sector is relatively new, for twenty-five years ago mining laws restricted women from performing certain jobs underground. Since then, the South African Mining Charter, which sets out the obligations of mining companies, has come into force, requiring 10% of the total workforce to be female based in order to promote equity and redress historical imbalances.
Today women are found in all areas of these industries, from support services on the surface to operating machinery underground, and the number of female professionals is increasing. Women make up 24% of executive management among South African mines, while the 2014 Employment Equity Report states that the number of women in top management in South Africa has increased from 14% in 2003 to 21% in 2013. Women in senior management increased from 22% to 30% over the same period, while professionals increased from 36% to 43%, and skilled workers from 44% to 47%.
Awareness of women in the mining and construction sectors highlights the importance of discrimination, health, sanitation, pregnancy, housing, proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as verbal and physical abuse. Particular attention should be given to women in mining and their special health and safety needs in order to enhance optimal and safe productivity. As communication specialists for these audiences, Jincom is proud to be pioneers when it comes to the communication of these issues in the industry.

WIMSA laments lack of women development in mines

Sunday 10 August 2014, SABC
WIMSA spokesperson Noleen Pauls has called on mining companies to support women. WIMSA, which was formed in 2010, supports women in mining and female geology students by mentoring them and exposing them to networking platforms.
Women in Mining South Africa (WIMSA) has painted a grim picture of the participation of women in the mining industry. It says only 11% of women are represented in the industry.
“It is very much male-dominated, there are women obviously working in the industry. Unfortunately, we still have to deal with the fact that it’s quite a harsh working environment. Chauvinism is still perceived to be a barrier to promotion,” says Pauls.
“Women feel (that) they have to work harder to reach the same positions as their male colleagues and we find that women are often more qualified than their male colleagues at the same level. They also feel that infrastructure and equipment isn’t really tailored for women,” adds Pauls.

Transformation is the leading mining challenge

The Citizen, 13 August 2014
Transformation was identified as one of the leading challenges in the mining industry during the first day of a lekgotla held in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
During a discussion on women in mining, Virginia Tyobeka, head of human resources at Kumba Iron Ore, said there were no blanket solutions.
“One size does not fit all,” she told the lekgotla.“Sometimes we don’t focus on the right things or involve the right people… in terms of mindset we have a long way to go.”
Tyobeka said she was passionate about educating young girls about the opportunities in mining. “Back then we missed the opportunity to influence young girls and I believe we still doing that today. A 10-year-old girl knows she can become a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, why not a mining engineer?”

This is an extract. To read the article in its entirety go to 

Nolitha Fakude: Celebrating women in power

Last month, Nolitha Fakude was awarded the prestigious South African “Most Influential Women in Business and Government” award in the mining and petrochemical sector.  In addition to this, Sasol has been short-listed for six Gender Mainstreaming Awards.  This recognition is evidence of the success of Sasol’s Women Empowerment Strategy – an initiative aimed at enabling women to reach their full potential and to break through perceived, and sometimes real, glass ceilings.
Sasol Limited, Executive Director, Nolitha Fakude believes passionately that companies must partner with high performance and values driven employees to be successful. As keynote speaker at Mining Lekgotla 2014, she emphasises the need to promote gender equity and partnerships with women to create real value.
To read the full article go to

Sasol’s Women in Mining : Interview with Portia Malele, Mine Manager

To view the video click here, Published on Aug 14, 2014
Sasol is putting the spotlight on the women in our business who are excelling within their fields. Thubelisha Shaft Manager, Portia Malele, is an inspiring story of how hard work and determination can pay off.
Malele agrees that the mining world is not an easy one for women to break into, but passion is what has helped her cope. “I like what I do and do what I like!” Portia laughs. “When I am at work, I enjoy myself and having a strong and supportive family makes the work/life balance easier to handle.”

Where are all the women?

By Greg Nicolson, 15 Aug 2014

“The employment of women in mining remains a particular challenge. It is lonely for me up here, as you can see. It is lonely, too, for the small minority of women employed in mining operation,” joked Anglo American executive director Khanyisile Kweyama on Wednesday evening.
African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma spoke of a “disproportionately high number of men” in the industry. “I take it that is how it is in the mining sector and it must change.” She continued, “If you give financial strength to women you are strengthening the family, the community and the nation. Their money does not end in the handbag. It goes to education for the kids, it goes to shelter, to the community and even to their men.”
Women’s Minister Susan Shabangu also addressed the forum. “We must ask uncomfortable questions: is there a South African woman CEO of a major mining house, since 1994, save for the US citizen Cynthia Carrol who has since left Anglo American? Is it frankly not a disgrace that the mining majors have failed such an important transformation test?” Shabangu said the level of women in mining has moved from 1% to around 10%, but more needs to be done to get women into programmes that prepare them for mine work and managing mining companies.

Extract from ‘Mining Lekgotla 2014: Five key points’. To see the article in its entirety click here