Promoting women in mining at Kimberley Undergound

Promoting women in mining at Kimberley Underground

As a child, Stephinah Sithole was told about life underground by her father, a miner at the Frank Smith diamond mine in the Northern Cape. This unseen world fascinated her and when, in 2005, Stephinah heard that Petra Diamonds was advertising mining positions for women, she did not hesitate to fill in an application, the success of which overjoyed her.

Fondly called Steph by her underground co-workers, Stephinah is one of 47 women at Petra Diamonds’ Kimberley Underground mine (29 of whom work directly in the mining operations) and works as a lift operator. She views her professional success as an indicator of her personal responsibilities: “If I can work underground, then I can also be a responsible mother and woman,” and is encouraged seeing her female peers performing well.

While Stephinah is adamant about the important role women play in mining, dispensing advice to future female mining applicants such as, “Don’t ever say, ‘I can’t do it because I’m a woman’. We women, we can do it,” .

Charmaine Mabuza admits that being a part of the masculine mining world involves a mindset shift. As time went by, however, Charmaine, a recovery assistant, realised that her hard work and determination earned her the respect of both male and female colleagues and she began to believe that “with confidence and willpower, I can do this”. Defiant, inspired and strong, the women at Kimberley Underground envision long and prosperous careers in the mining industry.

With a sense of surprise and pleasure, loco guard Amelia Maphile confesses that the most valuable lesson she has learnt during her two years at Petra Diamonds is that, “I’m brave!” For her, a career in mining has enabled her to overcome her fears and improve her confidence. Daily challenges and lessons serve now only as further motivation for her to perform well and safely.