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In this exclusive two-part feature, Mining News speaks to two women who are involved in the business of manufacturing equipment for the mining industry. They are also members of Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (MEMSA). They share their experiences in the mining equipment manufacturing space.

We start with Christina Zondi, a director at Drill Rod Specialist and vice chair of MEMSA. She has various responsibilities in different areas of the business, including checking inspection reports, conducting failure investigations and finding solutions to problems related to product quality. Mining News caught up with her to find out more about being a business woman in the mining industry.

How did you get to where you are today?

My Partner and I were given an opportunity to run a manufacturing plant in 2014 through ESD. Since then we have never looked back.

Has this always been something you’ve wanted to do?

By trade I’m a metallurgist and thought I will move up the ranks as a metallurgist. Running a business is challenging but is more fulfilling as it covers a wide range of skills.

I think there are some improvements when you compare previous years to currently.

Christina Zondi
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced mining industry in your career so far?

Being undermined and your technical ability is always questioned by other counterparts.

Do you think these challenges had anything to do with the fact that you are a woman?

Yes, and I observe this when I attend meetings with my partner because he is a male, most people prefer to get feedback from him rather than myself. I don’t take offence as I realise that things have been this way for a long time. It might take a while to start experiencing some change.

How did you overcome such challenges?

  • Taking the initiative to engage with customers and suppliers
  • Empowering myself by getting training with regards to skills that are in line with running a business
  • Networking
What motivated you to keep going in difficult times?

  • The need to succeed
  • Always learning from mistakes.
  • Knowing that nothing personal it’s just business.
How are you received by your male counterparts?

Once they know you and work with you then the interactions are easy going.

What is your view on female representation in the mining industry in South Africa currently?

I think there are some improvements when you compare previous years to currently. A lot of operations that were done by men e.g. mining site visits, machine operations are now done by women.

What do you think needs to change to accommodate more women in the mining industry?

  • Career guidance initiatives
  • Having more technical high schools that can introduce careers in the mining industry to young girls.
What advice would you give to a young woman wanting to pursue the same career path as you?

Never underestimate your capability and when mistakes happen take them as learning experiences and move forward. Take constructive criticism and work on those items to empower yourself.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Coaching of young women at an early stage needs to happen more and empower young men to see women as their equal counterparts and not less.

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