Empowering women in the South African mining industry

2 October 2019

Women working in mines in South Africa: the facts 

In the South African mining industry, women only represents 17% of the workforce despite all the efforts to increase diversity. In a country where mining is considered the foundation of the economy, it seems like a great loss to close the doors to half of the population’s talent. Indeed, until 1994 women were prohibited by law to even enter mines. 

Despite of general believes, the history of mines have always been linked to women. Nevertheless, nowadays, it is considered a man’s world with risky, physical activities and needing of intensive training. For these very reasons mining does not attract that many women talents set aside the administrative and advisory positions. 

When working in underground mines, you need a great cardio and to be able to hold positions for quite a long time. Also, the mining industry being one of the most production driven sector, employees are put under a great amount of pressure to achieve production goals. Women can feel like they must strive to obtain credibility and to attain the same objective as man and would feel discouraged if they didn't achieve production targets. 

Are we doing enough for the safety of female miners in South Africa?

The most common challenges faced by women in mines are usually due to ergonomic problems and working conditions: 

  • musculoskeletal risk
  • interaction with the workstation 
  • work duration 

Machines and tools inside mines are especially designed for the physical attributes of men. It can become dangerous when women happen to work under the same conditions and with the exact same tools. Companies must therefore adapt the tools: 


Woman in mine in Chile operating a valve with Modec's electric portable valve actuator

Modec’s portable valve actuator contributed in helping women’s productivity inside mines, indeed, when needing to operate valves that could take up to an hour by hand to open, the portable valve actuators allowed to take half that time and without no efforts. 

For the valves that do not need to be opened on a daily basis, it is not financially viable to put a fix actuator on each of them. It is also a loss of productivity to operate them by hand. A portable actuator inside the mine to operate any kind of valve by any member of the operational staff (men and women) was the solution of our clients we worked with in the mining sector. 


The Women and Gender Equity Ministry of Antofagasta in Chile trying our portable valve actuator for mines 

If you want to check out more case studies with our portable valve actuators feel free to click here :

Cas studies : 4 portable valve actuators applications

Bruno Martin
Bruno Martin

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