This engineer is carving a niche for women in mining
As a young girl growing up on a farm in the Free State, Elizabeth Hovy dreamed of becoming a vet. Today, the 28-year-old is quietly carving a niche for women in the traditionally male-dominated world of mining.
“After school, I applied to study veterinary science, but my application was unsuccessful. Because I grew up on a farm, I’ve been fascinated by the workings and mysteries of engines from a young age. So I decided to change direction to Mechanical Engineering, and I’ve never looked back,” she says.
In the second year of her engineering degree Elizabthgot a bursary from De Beers Managed Operations. After completing her undergraduate degree in 2015, she joined De Beers’ Voorspoed Mine near her home town of Kroonstad in 2016. She spent some time in Anglo Platinum’s Amandelbult mine for underground exposure, she joined the Venetia Mine in 2019.
Currently an acting section engineer in the diamond recovery treatment plant at Venetia Mine in Musina, , her key focus is to ensure that her section and team are working safely at all times.
“At Anglo American and De Beers, safety is the number one priority at all times. Right now, a big challenge for us is that my teams are obviously very concerned about the health and safety of their families during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we’re constantly trying to find ways to help the guys process and handle this additional worry,” she says.
Entering what many people see as a ‘man’s world’ has never been an issue for her. “I’ve never really experienced Anglo American as a man’s world. In my experience, there are equal opportunities for both men and women within the organisation, with a lot of opportunities for development – just look at my underground exposure at Platinum, for example,” says Elizabeth.
In fact, she says, many of the people who have been instrumental in her growth as a professional have been men who ‘saw beyond the the gender of the girl’ in front of them to share their technical and life expertise.
Today, her mentor is Anglo Coal engineering manager Annette Small, who is providing what she calls invaluable guidance in her journey as a woman in the mining industry – just as she herself looks forward to being able to inspire the next generation of young female miners.
And if she could give her younger self any career advice? “Don’t be discouraged if things don’t work out the way you thought it would. Work hard and give everything you do your best shot, and then trust God to do the rest,” she says.
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