Rossing Uranium Mine has reached another milestone in its long history as the company celebrates a decade of having women as equipment operators this year.
The trade was previously regarded a male exclusive domain but seven women set out to prove the perception wrong when they started out as the first women equipment operators in 2002.
Ten years down the line, the company now has 35 women working in what the mining industry perceives to be a male world of equipment operators.
Equipment operators’ duties include driving haul trucks; operate water carts, shovel and implements and blasting operations.
Most of those women come from different works of life and had no idea on what to expect from of their jobs nor did they know that they were going to last long.
Aretha Mutubulwa, a blaster at the mine and one of the first intake recalls: “We had no idea what to expect when responding to the employment advertisement.”
A sentiment echoed by her colleague, Valencia Beukes, who collaborates Mutubulwa’s story when she recalls she did not even apply for the job but rather her brother had done it on her behalf , leaving her with no choice than take the call when she received it.
They were at first taken through the whole process on how to operate the machines and all the process that goes into it.
However, once they got the feel of their job and passed the first challenge of fear of driving the truck and realised that if men do it then they can do it as well, they have never looked back ever since.
The women were given a two year contract in case they would have wanted to look for other employment. That has not been the case as they are all glowing while thinking about their job.
Carol Carolus who is now a foreman for the B shift and one of the first lady foremen in the open pit agree that her job has been all a surprising and fulfilling ride.
“We surprised everybody, including ourselves,” says Carolus, while Stella Hoebes who still drives her truck does not hide the joy she has received from her work over the years.
The group of women has achieved so many things including being the first women to operate in the open pit.
There is no better month than August which is dedicate to women month to celebrate their achievements in all spheres of life.