Elize Malander, 27, is one of the few Namibian women employed at Husab Uranium mine that is breaking new ground as the first female heavy equipment operator at the mine.

Currently, she is a haul truck equipment operator which entails drilling while other times she does loading which includes collecting material from one place and taking it to another.

According to Malander, she joined the mining industry mainly because it presents more opportunities than other jobs and one gets to grow quickly within the industry.

“You acquire skills and talent very quickly in the mining world because you receive on the job, practical training which helps you master concepts very quickly and easily,” she says.

Before joining the mining industry, she says that she was somewhat skeptical because she did not want to work in the sun for long periods of time.

It was only when she joined through the persuasion of her husband who also works at the mine as a training officer that she fell in love with it.

“It is a very different environment from what I expected. When I got there and saw all the big machines, it scared me. I thought I would not be able to do it. My first experience was so overwhelming, the truck felt like a big four-bedroom house. I was a bit intimidated,” she said.

It was only when she started classroom training that she became more comfortable, and since then, she has never looked back.
“You need to have perseverance and be strong if you are to do this type of work. If you are that person who gives up easily, then this is not for you,” she said.

Husab mine produced its first uranium drum in December last year.

The mine, which is 60 kilometres from the coastal town of Swakopmund, is one of the biggest uranium mines in the world which is expected to promote Namibia’s GDP growth by about 5 percent and increase volume by about 20 percent, making Namibia the second largest producer of uranium in the world.

The 4.8 billion U.S. dollars project situated in the Namib Desert is one of China’s biggest single investments in Africa which took four years to finish.

The mine has created about 1,406 permanent jobs in Namibia and contributed 560 million Namibian dollars (43 million U.S. dollars ) in tax revenue to the country.

At full production, the mine will move 15 million tonnes of ore per annum, and has a nameplate capacity of 50 tonnes per annum.
Through the four years that Malander has been part of the mine; she has moved through the ranks and is now studying towards becoming a safety trainer.

Gabriella Shiweda, 25, left a career in banking to get involved in mining after seeing how well her father had advanced in the mining industry.

“I am not suited for an office job, I love challenging environments that push my mind. I am very blessed to be a part of this team,” Shiweda said.

The mine employs about five heavy equipment operators who have had to juggle both family and demanding jobs that require precise attention.

Cecilia Smith, 33, who is also part of the five, has two children and the youngest is 11 months old.

Usually, it is only men who are found in these types of back breaking jobs which presents a stigma when women are found doing such jobs.
The women admit that at times, their male colleagues undermine their capabilities but through hard work, they have persevered.
The Namibia Ministry of Mines and Energy encourages mines to employ more women.

Deputy Minister Kornelia Shilunga says that the number of women entering and graduating in the Mining field is still modest. A lot still needs to be done to promote more women to enter the mining industry and to groom them to become industry leaders.

According to 2014 statistics of the Mining industry provided by the Employment Equity Commission of Namibia, only 3.4 percent of executive directors in the mining industry are female.

“It is incumbent upon all of us as professionals in the Mining industry to mentor young women at secondary school and tertiary levels to create awareness,” she said. Enditerm

Source: Xinhua/