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Khoemacau look to engineer change

MIXING IT WITH THE BIG BOYS: Mercy Ellias
MIXING IT WITH THE BIG BOYS: Mercy Ellias

Cooper Mine strive to empower women

Located in Toteng village, some 65km out of Maun, Khoemacau Copper Mine is grooming women engineers in an effort to absorb more females into the male-dominated mining industry.

Speaking during a media tour of the mine last Thursday, the mining manager, Logic Sebopeng explained that as Khoemacau transitions from construction to operations their recruitment drive has seen more women showing interest in the field.

“We know mining is historically a male-dominated field but women have realised that they also are capable and are coming out and we are supporting them to be successful to drive the mining operations,” Sebopeng said, pointing to the mine’s female drivers as proof that girl power is well and truly alive at Khoemacau.

“There are some female engineers that we are grooming and if you come here in the next five years the picture will be different,” he promised.

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Despite his optimism, Sebopeng admits female interest in engineering as a career is still low.

TRAIL BLAZER: Ellias takes to her truck

TRAIL BLAZER: Ellias takes to her truck

“We are not absorbing them as quickly as we would have wanted because engineering itself is less attractive to females but we are encouraging them to take it up.”

Although not an engineer, 28-year-old Mercy Ellias, is a young lady who has broken into the mining industry, joining Khoemacau under its subcontractor, Barmico as a labourer last August.

“Because of my interest in the job, I was offered an on-the-job training to be a truck operator, so I do go underground. The first two days was scary but I got used to it and I am enjoying it,” she told Voice Money in a brief interview during the tour.

Giving a word of advice to members of the fairer sex keen to follow in her footsteps, Ellias added, “A word of encouragement to fellow women out there who have a passion to join the mining industry is that they should never allow anything to discourage them. They should be patient because in life there are no shortcuts. I came here as a labourer but I am progressing very well.”

Khoemacau sits in the Kgalagadi copper belt and started its operations in 2018, with its underground development in Zone 5 commencing at the start of 2020.

The mining and construction workforce on site is said to have peaked at more than 2, 300 around March this year, with more than 92 percent Batswana employed in the mining, construction and operations departments.

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As of this month, the mine has reportedly produced at least 429 kilotonnes of ore, of which 111 was crushed, with more than 350,000 tonnes of high-grade sulphide ore stockpiled.

The mine is expected to produce an annual average of 62, 000 metric tones of copper and silver for at least the next 20 years.

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