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New colliery promotes women’s empowerment

A load haul machine driving in a sparse mining terrain with the sun shining brightly in the sky

BRIGHT FUTURE Canyon Coal's Gugulethu colliery looks to hire even more women in various positions as the mine develops

11th August 2023

By: Halima Frost

Senior Writer

     

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Within the first few months of operating, coal miner Canyon Coal’s R600-million Gugulethu colliery, in Mpumalanga, has employed 21 women, with the intention of increasing that number going forward, says Gugulethu mine GM Jarmi Steyn.

Canyon Coal is a subsidiary of private investment company Menar.

The women are employed as articulated dump truck operators and site administrators, as well as blasting and mechanical assistants.

Steyn says senior team members include Gugulethu stakeholder relations superintendent Thobeka Mahlangu, who comes from the local community and has 12 years of experience in her field, which has been valuable in creating strategic relationships.

Further, Gugulethu environmental officer Faith Masango ensures that operations remain compliant with all regulations, and its human resource administrator Mbali Khumalo has steered the process of recruiting competent staff.

Gugulethu has also welcomed a woman engineer to the team, who will be arriving on site before the end of the month.

“We would like to see more women being deployed in leadership positions, working as artisans, engineers and generally taking up available opportunities in the sector,” Steyn enthuses.

The development of Gugulethu colliery is progressing well, with first coal expected “any day now”, she adds.

Work on the box cut is currently under way, and the first phase of operations is expected to produce 200 000 t of run-of-mine coal a month at full production.

The processing plant for the Gugulethu colliery is also progressing to plan and is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

“We have changed the configuration of the Hakhano processing plant, sourced from our depleted Hakhano mine, to now also produce up to a 50 mm product for the export market, which allows for more flexibility,” says Steyn.

The Hakhano processing plant was initially configured to produce a range of sized products in the form of nuts, peas, duff and spiral.

A new filter press plant will also be installed to process the slurry more efficiently, which will offer a better water reticulation and disposal of slurry option.

During the past six months, contractors have been secured and heavy mobile equipment has arrived on site, in addition to a recruitment drive that is still ongoing.

In terms of attracting women to mining jobs, Steyn says if women saw other women in critical mining positions, their interest in a career in mining would be piqued.

Importantly, women empowerment is a significant part of Gugulethu colliery’s ongoing efforts to support community development as a mine.

“In April, we hosted a procurement day for local businesses that are interested in working with us, and it was encouraging to see women business representatives in attendance,” she says.

Further, skills development opportunities have been advertised by Gugulethu to attract more women so that they can eventually be employed at the mine.

“We look forward to employing more women as operations progress and will ensure that they also benefit from skills development programmes like learnerships or internships,” Steyn concludes.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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