LANXESS Supports Women in Mining
Mining is an important contributor to the South African economy, and has a rich history, which has shaped much of our economic landscape. However, it still remains a male dominated industry, which presents a range of challenges for women. While much still needs to be done to address these issues, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has initiated programmes that actively support and promote the participation of women in the mining industry.
Women in Mining South Africa (WIMSA) established a forum to provide women in mining with the support and guidance for personal growth, leadership, and career development by building relationships with the mining companies and the DMR. As one of the WIMSA members, LANXESS Chrome Mining (Pty) Ltd. (the Mine) addressed the various concerns of their female employees and the challenges they face, seeking the best solutions to address these issues. This included the development of women in critical positions, appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for women, as well as personal safety while working and travelling underground alone. Positive outcomes through investments made by the Mine comprise the implementation of safety measures and working conditions that support women in mining, including the formulation of The LANXESS Women in Mining (WIM) Forum.
Ruth Kgantsi, Chairperson of the WIM Forum at the Mine, explained that the purpose of the forum is to enable women working at the Mine to act as positive agents of change in the mining industry. “The forum helped create an empowering network and environment to inspire, support and develop the progression of women in mining through providing access to education skills development, mentorship and representation.”
The Mine has identified aspects of equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) best suited for females, the Buddy System, that ensures no woman works or travels alone underground. The mine has also implemented new, DMR approved, underground sanitation methods and toilets, which makes it more comfortable and more hygienic for women underground. Human Resource is busy with the drafting of individual development plans, as part of the Skills Development Programme.
“Historically, women were employed at mines in support positions, like human resources and office administration, however this is changing. They are now part of the underground mining team at the rock face and mainly take care of electrical maintenance. These women play an integral part of the day-to-day functions of the Mine,” explains Kgantsi.
LANXESS has 143 women working on the mine, which equates to 20% female staff representation. “Women have a different and unique way of problem-solving that encompasses a practical approach and consideration of all parties involved. Our efforts are made to increase the participation of women, looking to give more opportunities for career growth and development in the mining industry,” concluded Kgantsi.
For women to make an impact in the mining industry, it is imperative that the industry and all its support sectors including government and clients, revalue their approach and commitment to achieving this particularly meaningful empowerment.