The number of women working in Tanzania's fast-growing mining industry is on the rise, with African Barrick Gold (ABG) claiming to employ more women in engineering, technical and other mining related fields.
As Tanzania joins the rest of the world today to mark the International Women's Dar, the firm said in a press statement yesterday that women have slowly carved out roles for themselves in male-dominated mining sector.
“At ABG's four gold-producing mines in Tanzania - Bulyanhulu, North Mara, Tulawaka and Buzwagi - women miners are showing they have the skills, the know-how and the technical ability to play a major role in mining, just like their male counterparts,” read the statement, in part.
It added that female workers at ABG mines are increasingly debunking the falsely-held belief in some quarters that the mining industry is no place for women.
According to Bulyanhulu Gold Mine (BGML) in Kahama district, Shinyanga region, the country's biggest underground mine, has employed women in various technical positions, erstwhile regarded as the preserve for men.
The statement said, recently the BGML appointed Felista Kitalonja as a driver of the longest semi-trailer commonly known as "Low Bed", which is used to transport heavy mining equipment like excavators and bulldozers at the mine site.
Felista was hired as a driver under the mine's Earthwork Section in the Engineering Department, where dozens of men have previously failed to drive the heavy equipment under her command.
Bulyanhulu’s Earthwork Foreman, William Aloyce, said being the only woman who applied for the job out of 80 people, Felista showed the best capability than all the job contestants during the interview.
Felista brings the number of women operators of heavy equipment at BGML's engineering section to three.
Other female pioneers at the mine are Habiba Aboubakar and Anna Mwakasakafyuka, who also operate heavy equipment like loaders and compactors.
Commenting on her achievement, Felista said she was grateful for being selected for the job, which allowed her to show her capability.
She said she was the only female who studied the operation of heavy equipment in the entire class of 2011 at the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) College in Mwanza.