Partnership formed to teach rural women excavator operating skills

19th August 2021 By: Donna Slater - Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

Partnership formed to teach rural women excavator operating skills

An excavator instructor supervises one of the women undergoing excavator operating training at Sany's Boksburg depot
Photo by: Creamer Media's Donna Slater

As part of efforts to uplift women during Women’s Month, South Africa-focused platinum developer Nkwe Platinum and multinational gold and copper explorer and developer Zijin Mining Group, have partnered with heavy machinery manufacturer Sany Southern Africa, to provide an entry-level excavator training programme for six women from their South African host communities.

During the week-long programme, which started on August 17, the women will learn the basic components and structure of excavators at Sany’s Boksburg depot, as well as physically learn how to operate basic movements on the machines.

For this purpose, Sany Southern Africa availed one of its new 365H Pro 36 t excavators for the six women to hone their newly acquired skills on.

Nkwe Platinum MD and CEO Zhiyu Fan says the company and Zijin Mining Group believe 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,” he adds.

Sany Southern Africa GM Samuel Zhang adds that women are “dramatically” under-represented in the mining industry, and that by empowering women with quality excavator operations skills and training, using one of its brand new excavators, will give women a more competitive edge to advance in the mining sector.

Five-hundred units of Sany excavators, loaders, graders and dumper trucks are active at work across the construction and mining industries in South Africa.


Nkwe Platinum is a 74% undivided shareholder of the mining right in respect of the Garatau platinum mine, which is situated on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex, in Limpopo. 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 a year of ore, 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, it will employ about 2 500 people.

To date, mining operations at Garatau have started with the construction of the boxcut, which will make way for the decline shaft development towards the end of this year.


The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities says it is imperative that job opportunities in male-dominated sectors be created to attract, retain, develop and promote women, with one such sector being that of mining.

Opening new sectors to women provides for greater employment opportunities for them, changing the circumstances women find themselves in, the department states.

Mines operate close to towns with the potential to provide opportunities to thousands of women who otherwise are confined to lives of poverty.

Programmes such as the excavator training benefit women like Maandagshoek, Burgersfort residents Agnes Kgoetiane and Janet Mankgela, who have been mine labourers but who have expressed an interest in operating excavator equipment.

“This programme is welcomed within Women’s Month, which calls for the economic empowerment of women, as one of the apex priorities of government and civil society,” the department says in a statement.

It adds that women’s economic justice remains a dream for many women who are marginalised and excluded owing to a myriad of intersecting inequality vectors, resulting in multidimensional poverty for many women and girls.

As such, programmes by the private sector to empower women must form part of standard operational plans to increase women participation in the economy, the department states.

“The department encourages the mining sector to showcase similar programmes aimed at empowering women.”