Interview: Patricia Marufu resource geologist, Freda Rebecca
Who is Patricia Marufu?
Patricia Marufu is a geologist with over 16 years of work experience, mainly in the gold mining industry. I hold a BSC degree in Geology and Physics from the University of Zimbabwe which I completed in 2005. Apart from being a career woman, I am studying for an MSC in Mineral Resources Management with a South African University. Another very important role I play is being a family person, I am a wife and a mother to 3 beautiful children ages 6, 12 and 14.
Describe your work as a senior Resource Geologist.
My role at Freda Rebecca in summary is estimation and evaluation of the mineral resources. I spend most of the time analyzing geological data gathered from mapping, drilling and various sampling methods to interpret it and coming up with various geological models. My main output is the delineation of the orebody and the estimation of the quality and quantity of the mineral resources.
What do you enjoy most as a Geologist?
I enjoy the fact that it allows one to think deeply and make use of their analytical skills. It is challenging at times but I like the fact that it is interesting and there is always a great feeling of satisfaction whenever you succeed.
What do you emphasize when evaluating geological data?
I must say the most important aspect is ensuring that any geological data you are making use of is valid and of high integrity. As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out, I always make sure that I dedicate a lot of time to verifying data and assessing the quality of data available before inputting it into my ore body interpretation
Some say Mining is men’s work, as a person who has been in the business for years what would you say to such a statement?
That statement is wrong. While some jobs can be physically taxing for women, there are a lot of other tasks that women can carry out in a mine environment. When I started my career 16 years ago, there were indeed a few women and most of these would work in administration offices and as secretaries. Nowadays the percentage of women in mines has increased and we now have more engineers, geologists and technicians who are equally good at their work in comparison to their male counterparts.
As an experienced person in the Mining Industry would you recommend your children to take mining as a profession in future?
I would encourage any person interested to join the mining industry. It does have challenges but it’s just like any other industry. Those determined to succeed can definitely flourish in the industry.
Who is one inspirational woman you look up to in the mining industry?
My fellow geologist and workmate Kudzai Takaindisa who is head of the Geology section. She is tough and fearless and no doubt is a good manager.
What is your process for identifying and describing a new mineral?
In geology you need to have an eye for the physical characteristics of any mineral such as colour, form, associated minerals etc. but scientific methods such as lab tests and assays are always best to confirm what mineral it is.
Do you think there is enough representation of women in geology?
Very much so. It seems women have understood that geology is not a man’s territory. In fact of the 7 geologists and geo-technicians in my workplace, 5 of us happen to be women.
Describe your process for analyzing rock samples.
I look at physical attributes such as colour, rock type, associated minerals, any alteration of minerals etc
How do you manage risk when conducting fieldwork?
A thorough risk assessment is always crucial before any work commences so that the hazards can be eliminated or mitigated to a reasonable level.
Do you think a woman-only mine is possible?
Very much so.
Any words to all women in the mining industry?
Although the mining industry is male-dominated, I have seen that women are equally capable of producing good results comparable to their male counterparts. I have seen quite a good number of women who are good managers in the workplace. So I encourage women not to fear or feel intimidated to target challenging roles or managerial roles.
Any words parting words to young women out there who would like to venture into geology?
You go girl, you are well-able!