TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Women remain underrepresented in South Africa’s mining industry, although this is changing as the female contingent continues to grow, Laurion Mineral Exploration president Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin told audience members at the Toronto’s Women in Mining Luncheon on June 11.
Le Sueur-Aquin has more than 35 years of mine management experience, which also includes working for Randgold & Exploration, Rand Leases (V) Gold Mining Corp and Gold Fields.
“As recently as 20 years ago, women were restricted by legislation from working in South African mines,” she explained. “Traditionally, the mining industry always sourced its labour from the rural male workforce.”
Without the necessary mine experience, opportunities for promotion and advancement had also been restricted for women, she added. “While legislation now makes provision for women to work in the industry, they remain poorly represented. Typically, they work in support services.”
“[However,] the mining industry still aspires to the Mining Charter’s baseline of 10% female representation and participation in technical disciplines, and the [required] percentage is predicted to increase to around 20% in 2018,” she said.
Looking beyond South Africa, Le Sueur-Aquin highlighted the need for both more men and women to be trained and employed as the mining industry faces a serious demographic shortfall.
“There’s a looming demographic labour market crisis,” she said. “And the nature of this problem is deeper and more systemic than anything the mining and exploration industry has grappled with before.
“Without effective action now, our resource sector will face a future of workers looking for jobs that require skills they don’t possess. Large numbers of jobs will then go unfulfilled,” she warned. “We need to start training people.”
GETTING IT RIGHT
Le Sueur-Aquin also explored some of the personal difficulties faced. “Firstly, there’s no such thing as work-life balance, so stop clicking your heels Dorothy,” she said. “[Secondly,] whether you succeed or fail is not about your gender, it’s about who you are.”
“If you’re presented with a tough decision, then sleep on it. Don’t get bullied,” she added. “Additionally, you’ll also need to delegate effectively; this is a big thing that affects the endgame and whether you want to grow more strategically.”
“Hire people to handle business the way you yourself would handle business … and remember that your reputation is vital. Beware of Karma: it will come back to [haunt you] if you want to get one over on somebody,” Le Sueur-Aquin warned.
People should also be encouraged to speak their minds. “Don’t let people walk into your office and tell you things that you want to hear; make sure they tell you what you need to hear,” she said.
It is important to adapt and respond as well. “And look for things that other people are not willing to see,” she added. “Always have a contingency plan in place too; in this market you’ll always need one.”
“Finally, it’s not the long hours that count; it’s the results from the creative and strategic thinking,” she stressed. “Remember to listen and observe, because leadership is about listening and learning.”