Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
BOTHA, D. and CRONJE, J.F.. The physical ability of women in mining: Can they show muscle?. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2015, vol.115, n.8, pp. 659-667. ISSN 2411-9717. http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2411-9717/2015/V115N8A1.
Although women all over the world have been involved in mining activities for centuries, mining has always been considered a very masculine industry due to its heavily male-dominated workforce as well as the physicality of mining work. The mining industry has not been an obvious career choice and preferred place of employment for women; women were mainly employed in administrative and advisory positions. Until 1994, women were legislatively prohibited from being employed in underground operations in South Africa, but the Mines Health and Safety Act, No. 29 of 1996, removed these restrictions. In addition, new mining legislation (the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, No. 28 of 2002) and the accompanying Mining Charter make specific provisions for the inclusion of women in core mining activities and require 10% of core positions to be filled by women. This article voices perceptions of the physical ability of women employed in core mining positions. Findings are drawn from empirical work undertaken at platinum, phosphate, and copper mines. Quantitative and qualitative research paradigms are used. It is evident that women find it extremely difficult to perform mine work that requires physical strength and stamina. Practical recommendations, informed by the literature review and empirical findings, are made with the objective of contributing to the sustainable deployment of women in the mining industry.
Keywords : core mining activities; mining industry; physical ability; sustainable deployment; women in mining.