Diversified miner Exxaro Resources has appointed Tamara Qwatekana as the company’s first ever female mining manager.
She will be based at Exxaro’s digital connected mine in Belfast, Mpumalanga.
Qwatekana was previously the company’s first female superintendent at its Grootgeluk operation, in Limpopo.
In South Africa, only 17% of senior management is female, with the number decreasing to 16% in top management. In the commodities sector, in general, only 14% of the workforce in bigger segments (such as diamonds and iron-ore) are women, 13% in coal, 12% in gold, while the highest employers of women (chrome, cement, lime, aggregates and sand) hover at between 17% and 18%.
In a statement published on Friday, Qwatekana reflected on being a woman working in the mining sector. “To me, women empowerment means giving women opportunities and holding them to the same standards of accountability as their male colleagues. Women empowerment is proving, beyond doubt, that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to and knowing that the standards didn’t have to be lowered to ‘accommodate’ us”.
Belfast mine people operations manager Mandla Motau said Exxaro was fast-tracking many women through succession planning processes, and was ensuring that adequate support was provided to them.
He added that Exxaro “prioritises females for training opportunities”, such as engineering learnerships, internships and professionals-in-training programmes to create a sufficient female talent pool.
“I believe it is the responsibility of every person in a position of power to create diversity in the mining industry. We must create programmes that educate on diversity, not just the need, but the benefits of having a diverse workplace. Diversity goes beyond hiring a young black woman. It also means creating an environment where a diverse workforce can thrive,” Qwatekana concluded.