Meet Maureen Tjia, the first female dozer operator in Helena Chrome mine in the Bushveld.
The dozer that Tjia operates is an MVD Extra Low Profile (XLP) Dozer, which is designed as a very low profile, remote-controlled machine for multiple uses such as underground mining, construction, military and defense missions.
In Tjia's case, with remote control, she operates the dozer which collects iron ore underground.
She said the machine helps to generate a stock of iron ore by pushing the ore into a panel, a machine called LED collects it to the deep, and then the ore is transported outside with a belt.
"I love doing the job that I do, I enjoy it. At first, I was scared of operating the machinery but I soon got the hang of it," she says.
Tjia is currently working for TS5 Mining and said she is proud to be a woman working in a male-dominated industry.
"I used to think that mining was for men, but it is not. There is a growing number of women in the sector operating these machines. I would like to encourage other women to seek out opportunities in the mining sector," she said.
Tjia’s drive and hunger for growth have seen her work her way up to being the first female dozer in the mining industry. She started her mining career in 2010 as a PTV at Redpath Mining in Dilokong, Mpumalanga.
“After 2013 I went to Modikwa to work for Letab Project where I worked as an assistant electrician again for another year, and then the contract ended," she said.
With a penchant for continuous learning and upskilling herself, Tjia has never stopped looking for opportunities to reach greater heights.
In 2017, she landed a job at GPMS Limited Services working in the Planning Office as an office worker.
“In 2019, I became a miners assistant, but because my miner and shift boss saw that I wanted to grow, she promoted me to Dozer operator. The contract ended in November 2021. TS5 Mining then came on-site and recruited five of our Dozer operators, and I was one of them. I love working with the dozer as well as teaching the new recruits how to operate it.”
Tjia has her eyes set on becoming a shift boss in the next five years and ultimately becoming a miner.
Her day at work starts with a safety meeting to discuss all the safety issues and possible problems, and then she and her team advance to the workplace to start checking out the machine and to make sure that everything is in order.
“I enjoy working underground with the heavy machine. My job motivates me and allows me to challenge myself to do better.”
Tjia said she believes that anything is possible, if someone puts their mind to it.
"If you work hard and persevere in your career, good things are coming and I would encourage women to follow their dreams," she said.