Coal miner Canyon Coal continues to promote women in mining, with 79 of its 297 employees being women – translated, this is 26.5% of its workforce. SA Mining recently spoke to human resources manager Dineo Maphutha about the company’s focus on gender equity.
What measures does Canyon Coal have in place to attract women to the mining sector?
Canyon Coal prioritises key and core career opportunities in mining for females, such as operators of articulated dump trucks (ADTs), excavators, dozers and graders, among others.
Is the company aligned to the Mining Charter requirements for gender equity? How many women are currently employed and what plans are in place to grow this number?
The company is aligned to the Employment Equity Act (legislation that is used as a yardstick for the achievement of gender equity in the workplace). Of the 297 employees (as at the end of May 2021), 79 are female, and 51 are appointed in mining (with 28 in core mining positions and 23 in mining support services positions: weighbridge, stores and control room).
Across every department from human resources to mine management and everything in between, Canyon Coal has many highly competent, dedicated and driven women who are working tirelessly to ensure that the company achieves its growth and sustainability targets.
Canyon Coal has chosen to profile Nonhlanhla Maseko, an ADT operator at its Phalanndwa Extension mine in Delmas, Mpumalanga:
I am a 35-year-old single mother of two. I was born and bred in Delmas. I attended schools in and around Delmas from pre-primary to matric. After finishing school, I completed an administrator course.
However, I couldn’t find work in administration, so I decided to also undertake an ADT course. After completing my ADT course, I applied for an ADT operator position at Phalanndwa Colliery in 2017. I moved over to the then new nearby Phalanndwa Extension in 2020. My dream was in fact to become a social worker, but because of financial constraints I was unable to pursue this dream.
My parents passed away when I was a little child and I was raised by my grandmother, who has also passed away. But these challenges didn’t stop me. I started undertaking small courses that didn’t cost me too much, such as the ADT course.
I have learnt so much since starting work at Phalanndwa Colliery and Phalanndwa Extension because when I came here, I knew nothing about mining.
Since then I have learnt many key lessons, including how to always work safely, how extraction of ore happens in a mining pit, how to work with people, and I have since become a strong and confident woman.
Although operating an ADT can be tough and tiring work, I find it very rewarding, and I enjoy it greatly. I encourage young girls to become ADT operators. They should always be striving to study new things, such as mining engineering, electrician, boiler maker, so they can advance their careers in mining.
Because of the experience that I have gained to date, I would like to become a mining assessor. This is because I would love to teach people about the many different and fascinating aspects of the mining industry, especially how to operate large mining machines.
I would like to teach people how these machines work and how to operate them safely. I am also currently a safety, health and environment representative, but I am also interested in one day studying more in order to become a full-time safety officer at the mine.
I also want to say that although this is a male-dominated sector, all my male colleagues have been very supportive of my female colleagues and me. Canyon Coal provides a healthy, safe and secure work environment for us as women in the mining sector.