Home > Latest > Contents

Feature: Namibian women spread their wings in science field at Chinese-invested company

Updated: February 14, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
fontLarger fontSmaller

WINDHOEK, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- As the Namibian government strives to enforce gender equality laws, local women in the science field spread their wings at the Chinese-invested Rossing Uranium mine in the coastal area of Namibia.

Growing up in coastal Arandis town, Angela Kapapilo was interested in science, and it was no surprise when she pursued geology.

"I am keen about science ... and my father was a laboratory technician at Rossing. So studying geology was a natural extension of this interest because I have always been fascinated by the fact that components for enumerable advancements in the world are created from material sourced from the earth's crust," she said.

Opportunities to explore interests in decision-making mechanisms for life-of-mine expansions and mining investments also drew her to Rossing Uranium. Although she has a wealth of experience gained from various companies, her life and current role as a principal resource geologist at Rossing Uranium are closely linked. The role has allowed her to add value to the workforce and catapulted her career growth.

Kapapilo attributed career progression at the company to capacity building offered through on-the-job and external training. "I have had several roles at Rossing over the years, which have all given me a sense of purpose and fulfillment in my career," she said in a recent interview.

These include successful accolades of oversight role on the Heap Leach project, an expansion activity where uranium was leached from ore by percolating acid through them as opposed to the ordinary tank-leaching process. When the Heap Leach project ended, Kapapilo was temporarily seconded to the superintendent production planning role, during which she interacted with the end-to-end value chain at Rossing Uranium.

"I took up the superintendent resource evaluation role in 2014 and was later promoted to the principal resource geologist in December 2018 -- a career highlight to date and demonstration of a successful Rossing Uranium understudy journey," she added.

Another woman hacking into a man's world is Karin Elizabeth Maletzky, who joined the company in 2005 as a graduate grade control geologist.

Maletzky, 45, started her career as a junior offshore geologist on diamond vessels. The vocation at the mine accorded her further career prosperity.

She has since immersed herself in the quality assurance of uranium, one of the top five export products for Namibia. "Since joining, I have been promoted into several roles in mine geology, mining operations, and processing operations over the years. Work at the mine also aided character development and exposed me to tenets of international mining operations in South Africa, North America, and Australia," she said.

Meanwhile, pursuing the science field and career paths groomed their leadership skills. "It has empowered and equipped me to enhance my knowledge, skills, and leadership competencies," Maletzky said.

The roles in science also pushed women to break social gender stereotypes.

"The mining industry is still largely male-dominated. In my experience, most men are not open and receptive to being led by a woman; therefore, there is a lack of trust and respect to a certain degree," she said.

As the world observed International Day of Women and Girls in Science Saturday, the local women hope to inspire girls into the science field.

"Most importantly, it has enabled me to provide for my children, family, friends, and communities and be an inspiration to the people I have relationships with," Maletzky said.

Kapapilo said self-retrospection is critical for the success of women in science. "Be honest about technical and soft skills gaps, and pursue on-the-job and external initiatives to help you address those gaps. Strive for excellence in all your roles and read widely to develop an understanding of the science behind the end-to-end systems and processes that support the efficient extraction of resources," she said.

The mining company is exploring diversified approaches for gender parity. "The aim is to increase women's representation and promote women in specialized and managerial job categories," said Daylight Ekandjo, manager of corporate communication at Rossing Uranium.

According to Ekandjo, 174 of the company's 901 permanent employees are female, with representation across all job levels spanning from senior management, middle management, specialized skills, frontline leaders, operators, and artisans.

Despite progress in driving inclusion in the science field, the participation of girls and women in science is still underrepresented in Namibia, said Anicia Peters, the pro-vice-chancellor for Research, Innovation, and Development at the University of Namibia. 

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia