To celebrate 2022 Women’s Day South Africa, we look at women who have been blazing the trail in the South African mining industry in recent years. From women who led the way in their field, carving a path for other women in the sector, to moments when women transformed the way the mining industry treats females, we salute these trailblazing individuals. Take a look at moments when women succeeded in the South African mining sector and made a difference in their own ways.
Standout South African women and success in SA’s mining industry
Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, THE ‘IRON LADY’ OF SOUTH AFRICA
Stating that she goes by the motto, “Yes we did”, Daphne Mashile-Nkosi is the first-ever woman and Black woman to own a mine and mining company in South Africa. Her mine, Kalagadi Manganese in the Northern Cape, is a multi-million dollar business, and Mashile-Nkosi leads as the CEO and chairperson. In 2014, she was named CEO of the Year at the Africa CEO Forum.
The story of the Black female entrepreneur is a classic rags-to-riches tale; raised in Pilgrim’s Rest, Mashile-Nkosi and her family endured poverty while she was growing up. Now, she not only owns a thriving, wealthy company, but also enjoys the high life, driving a Bentley, flying in private jets, and living large in her mansion. As she says, she has worked hard for what she has, and having grown up with very little, she “can enjoy these things now.”
However, the CEO is far from selfish and has long been an activist and advocate for women’s rights, working to demarginalise women. She was an anti-apartheid activist during South Africa’s apartheid regime and even arrested in 1988 while protesting, spending two years in prison.
Mashile-Nkosi had no background in mining when she founded Kalagadi, but she noticed that the mining industry was “a men’s world” and wanted to change that and transform it into a world for everyone.
Her goal is to help create a mining industry that represents South Africa’s demographic – and half of South African citizens are women. Her aim with her company was to build a workforce that would be 50% female. She says that many of her female employees have high-level positions and are treated the same as her male employees.
South Africa’s first-ever woman mining manager, Tamara Qwatekana, is the Mining Manager of Exxaro Resources and heads the company’s arm in Belfast.
When she was appointed, Qwatekana said, “It’s an honour to be recognised as deserving of carrying this huge responsibility.”
“To me, women empowerment means giving women opportunities and holding them to the same standards of accountability as their male colleagues.
The mining manager is passionate about creating diversity in the workplace, particularly stressing the need for education on diversity in the male-dominated mining sector, and teaching companies and employees why it is so important.
Veronica De Koker
Another woman leading the way for others is Veronika De Koker, who was the first woman in South Africa to become a drill rig operator, something she had dreamed of.
Drilling has long been a part of the mining industry into which females rarely venture, partly out of fear of being a minority amongst male drilling workers. Koker said, “I changed the game”, as the field now has far more women, according to her.
By breaking the mould, she sparked a transformation in the drilling industry and the field has now become a welcoming, safe environment for women. She encourages women interested in joining the male-dominated field to not be afraid of breaking mould, and follow their dreams.
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