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articles of interest

Women in Mining, South Africa

Women in Mining UK (WIM, UK) has published it’s 2022 edition of 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining. The publication celebrates women’s achievements in the mining industry throughout the world. How does South Africa fare when it comes to women in the industry?


The Minerals Council of South Africa have put out a white paper examining that specifically, and it was found that women make up only 12% of workers in the mining field. This means that the mining industry is behind other sectors in the country when it comes to women employees, according to a 2018 study by the Department of Labour.


Globally, though, the numbers are also quite low with Canada’s mining industry’s female employees sitting at 17% and Australia at 16%.


Women filled key above-ground roles prior to being legally allowed to work below ground in 1996. The move to include women in the mid-90s was a big step for the country, although women in the mining industry have faced several challenges.


The first of these is safety. Women are at risk of sexual harassment and abuse as well as verbal or physical abuse. The lack of female changing facilities and toilets underground make the situation worse. They also may be working far away from other female workers. Below-ground women miners face the very real danger of sexual assault.


Mining is a labour intensive job carried out deep underground. Generally speaking, many women do not match the physical strength and stamina that is required of mining. Because toilets are usually far from where they are working, women often don’t drink water, which could lead to cases of dehydration.


Equipment, clothing and PPEs are not designed for women, but rather designed for men. This means that tools are not created for smaller hand sizes and may be a heavier weight than female workers can lift.


However, there are solutions. By improving safety and adapting clothing and equipment, women would be more able to work underground. Providing female changing rooms and toilets would also assist women’s safety.


Mines could also include policy changes that could serve women. For example, they could supply day care, safe above-ground jobs for a pregnant or breast feeding woman, and they could include a policy that not only promotes diversity in the workplace, but promotes respect for women and stringently enforced anti-GBV rules.


Women in the workplace deserve to feel safe and valued – and it’s no different for the mining industry.



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Office:  +27 (0) 87 808 8862


Emergency: +27 (0)83 232 3327