Mining News attended an excavator training programme for six women from mining communities. The training programme was hosted by Sany Southern Africa in partnership with Zijin Mining and Nkwe Platinum.

During the week-long programme, the women got to learn about the basic components and structure of excavators, as well as how to physically operate basic movements on the machines.

“Nkwe Platinum and the Zijin Mining Group believes that the inclusion of women in the mining sector contributes significantly to its communities’ sustainable development and long-term economic growth. We recognise the potential that women can unlock for successful mining operations and understand that their skills development forms a vital foundation for a more productive community,” said Zhiyu Fan, Managing Director and CEO of Nkwe Platinum Limited.

The training programme was part of an initiative to honour women in women’s month. “We are pleased to embark on this training programme in partnership with Nkwe Platinum and the Zijin Mining Group. Women are dramatically under-represented in the mining industry. We hope that by empowering women with top quality excavator operations skills and training with state-of-the-art equipment will give women a more competitive edge to advance in this sector,” said Samuel Zhang, General Manager of Sany Southern Africa.

During the programme – which took place between the 16th and 20th of August – six women from mining communities got to learn about the basic components and structure of excavators. They also gained knowledge about physically operating basic movements on the machine. 

Nkwe Platinum Limited is a 74% shareholder of the mining right in respect of the Garatau Platinum Mine which is situated in the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Complex in Limpopo Province of South Africa. The mining company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Zijin Mining Group.

The processing capacity of Garatau is anticipated to average 3.6 million tonnes of ore per annum, once full capacity is achieved in a few years’ time. The life of mine is estimated to be in excess of 29 years and once fully operational will employ some 2500 people.

Mining operations at Garatau have commenced with the construction of the box-cut, which will make way for the decline shaft development towards the end of this year.

The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke

In a sector where less than 20% of top management, senior management and skilled professionals is made up of women, the department welcomes all efforts by mining companies to attract women into the sector. This sector employs over 400 000 South Africans, however, as of 2018, this workforce was made up of just 12% women. 

“We’re in women’s month 2021. The theme this year is The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Realising Women’s Rights. When we talk about women’s rights, we talk about a number of issues. A lot of the time in the media, the focus is on gender-based violence and femicide – which of course is a massive issue for women in this country,” said Shalen Gajadhar, Spokesperson for the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.

Gajadhar explained that women face a myriad of issues such as accessing the mainstream economy “We find that in this economy it’s male dominated, its male owned and its male controlled.” In a statement released, the department welcomed the programme within Women’s Month 2021, which calls for the economic empowerment of women, as one of the apex priorities of government and civil society. Women’s economic justice remains a dream for many women who are marginalised and excluded due to a myriad of intersecting inequality vectors resulting in multi-dimensional poverty for many women and girls.

Programmes like this benefit women like Agnes Kgoetiane and Jeanette Mankgele, both from Maandagshoek, in Burgersfort, have worked at a local mine but expressed an interest in operating excavator equipment.

Programmes by the private sector to empower women must form part of standard operational plans to increase women participation in the economy. The department encourages the mining sector to showcase similar programmes aimed at empowering women.

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