Interview: Eng Amanda Tigere – Mine Captain Projects at Trojan Nickel Mine
Amanda Tigere is an ambitious and articulate Engineer with a proven track record in delivering initiatives in development and production mining. Eng Tigere is conversant with and trained as an internal auditor for ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 Integrated Management Systems.
Mining Zimbabwe sat for an interview with the energetic Engineer and this is how the interview went.
Kindly describe your role at BNC
I am currently working as a Mine Captain Projects, Contracts and Best Practices at Bindura Nickel Corporation which is a subsidiary of Kuvimba Mining House (KMH).
My role involves managing all capital and operational projects that are happening underground as well as bringing fresh ideas to always improve our way of doing things underground. Because part of my work is done with contractors, the number of men Im leading is always fluctuating but it’s nothing less than 100 men at any given time. This is a very upbeat and exciting role, calling for a consolidation of the skills I have acquired in my previous roles i.e. mine planning and the operations side.
What inspired you to do Mining Engineering?
Mining chose me, rather than me choosing it, getting into mining I didn’t even know what mining was, I thought of Geology as being mining. This is a story for another day. However, I will say, what inspired me to keep on pursuing mining was the combination of science and arts that you find in Mining Engineering. There is a thrill which comes with knowing that I can come up with a design and 2 months down the line I will be walking and living in that design, the wide span of knowledge and portfolios a Mining Engineer is exposed to is just amazing and it’s a beautiful discovery of just how much strength and capability your brain has in amassing knowledge. In summary, Mining is an unending challenge to me and that in itself inspires me to keep going and employing myself on these various challenges.
Women constitute 52% of the total population what’s stopping them from taking on Mining engineering?
Lack of exposure and stereotyping. Take for example when we were growing up, the number of careers I knew could be counted using my fingers. There was no exposure to what else you can do besides being a doctor, nurse, teacher or police officer just to mention a few of the popular ones. For those that were fortunate enough to be exposed to the mining environment, it was always stereotyped as being a man’s world and it was rightfully so. The journey that the mining industry has gone through to be more inclusive of women is a long one and certainly a topic for another day. It is only in recent times, that a lot of myths about females in the mine are starting to be demystified and there is no better time than now for the girl child to explore her mental and physical capabilities by joining the STEM field, the mining field.
Describe your first experience underground.
Intriguing, dark and handsome. Funny Enough my first underground experience was here at Trojan Nickel Mine, I was still at University, and it was our first field trip. It was winter time, so I had layers of clothes on myself. When we got to Trojan they told us we had to walk just below a Km in the Adit before we could get to the Shaft which would then take us underground. The Adit happened to be the main air intake and resultantly it was very cold due to the high amount of air which was being pulled through it. When the training Officer told us to go light on clothing because as we get deeper the temperatures will begin to rise. Amanda decided to just disregard all of that and I kept a sweater beneath my work suit. To cut a long story short, I learnt the importance of experience and the value there is in listening to those who have gone before you.
Apart from my little rebellion which I heavily regretted, the experience was amazing more like out of this world. I couldn’t believe my eyes that there was a whole world, a whole life happening underground. Offices, Computers, Huge equipment being moved up and down serving different functions but all in a sort of coordinated manner, which I couldn’t understand. When I got into a little corner, I switched off my cap-lamp light and from that day onwards I also learnt that Dark Black is a colour.
How has your presence benefited the mine you are working for?
I have been with BNC since 2017, and over the years I have had the opportunity to work on various initiatives, taking the leading role in some and working as part of the team in some. My valuable experience which comprises the planning element (Mine Planner, July 2021 – January 2023) as well as the execution element (Shift Foreman, April 2019 – June 2021) is exactly what BNC needs even as we are embarking on various capacity and efficient building projects underground as we drive towards the high-volumes, low-grade strategy.
Your word to those who say Mining Engineering is a man’s job?
To quote the inspirational Trevor Ncube, I would say, ‘the future is young, the future is STEM and the future is FEMALE’. Come join us in the 21st Century, where your skills, tech-savvy and adaptability can take you to places where gender stereotyping has no room.
In your view is a woman only mine possible?
An only woman mine is possible, but that will also be gender discrimination *laughs*. On a more serious note, yes I do believe that an only-woman mine is possible via automation. With automation in mining operations, it becomes more about the right skills, tech-savvy and adaptability and more females are starting to move towards these 3 elements.
What is your leadership style and how do you make sure that your presence is felt?
I have seen myself move from one leadership style to another depending on the task at hand. However, in my current role as the Mine Captain Projects, Contracts and Best Practices, and the kind of Projects I am leading. I see myself leaning more toward the transformational leadership style. I need my team to understand the drive that the company is moving towards and I also need that team to be free enough to share their great ideas which will take us there and I need them to run with this vision as though their life depended on it (because to some extent it does *laughs*)
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?
- Heading the mining division of a recognized mining House.
- Board member for a couple of companies even for non-mining companies.
- Renowned Animal Husbandry Farmer
Does your organization recognize your role and how’s it supported as a woman in a leadership position? What can you tell others out there about BNC
Having joined BNC in 2017, I have had the opportunity to see and be part of the company’s growth in terms of female inclusivity. When I joined the company, in mining, there were only two females and most females were found in administration but as we speak the number of females working underground and in other technical fields has spiralled. Through myself and other female leaders within the Organisation, BNC has shown its commitment to just honouring the skills carried by a person regardless of gender. The organization is taking strides first and foremost to just ensure female-friendly facilities are available at the mine. We are carrying out various outreach activities, just to catch the girl child young and make them believe in themselves that if they can dream it, then they can achieve it. Trust me there is no better time for the girl child to just unapologetically rise and BE.
You are a young woman holding a demanding role in an environment that is said to be difficult, how do you balance social life and work?
Very good question and I will try to be as honest as possible. It is not easy bringing that balance and if Im to be honest it’s something I have struggled with for a long time. In more instances, work has just swamped my life away but I do think I’m getting better at managing that. The key is in time management and systems development. Failure to establish a working system means you are supposed to always be there, physically present for any task to be completed. Manage your time well, if it’s work time, let’s work and get the task completed so that there is enough time for the socials. The two (work and social life) both need each other to be enjoyable. But when the going gets tough a good work team and supportive family and friends make the job easier and I’m blessed to be surrounded by such.