Women at the forefront of progress at BME

Dr Rakhi Pathak, BME’s senior product manager for AN Products, Equipment and Services (Australia).
Dr Rakhi Pathak, BME’s senior product manager for AN Products, Equipment and Services (Australia).

BME, a member of the Omnia group, is leading the charge in creating a future where the mining sector offers attractive and rewarding career paths for women. By empowering women and providing them with abundant opportunities, BME is contributing to equality and progression in the sector.

“Mining has seen significant progress in recent years thanks to the remarkable efforts and resilience of women in this sector,” says BME MD Ralf Hennecke. “Their dedication, skills and determination have paved the way for meaningful change and transformation.”

According to the Minerals Council of South Africa, the number of women employed in the mining industry has risen from around 11 400 in 2002 to almost 72 200 in 2023. Women make up 15% of the country’s mining labour force of about 475 000 people.

On South Africa’s National Women’s Day on 9 August, the company saluted these trailblazers – who inspire further advancements in gender equality within the industry, says Hennecke.

There are highly-skilled and qualified women throughout the business, he says, including senior levels of operation and management – with roles ranging from technical and engineering to law and safety. While the day is part of South Africa’s heritage, BME applies these principles across all its global territories.

“National Women’s Day is a moment to celebrate their achievements and shed light on their struggles, so that we can continue working together towards a more inclusive and diverse mining sector,” he says. He highlights that women bring insights and abilities that add depth and strength to the organisation – while inspiring other women to join the industry.

Among the women in senior roles are Dr Rakhi Pathak, BME’s senior product manager for AN Products, Equipment and Services (Australia) and Nelisile Thanjekwayo, BME’s head of legal. Each have their own inspirational message to offer women working in the sector.

“Be patient with yourself and trust the journey,” says Dr Pathak. “Celebrate small wins and stay committed to your dreams and aspirations.”

Thanjekwayo encourags women in mining to “be present”. In the end, she says, life is about moments, so stop and take these in.

“Breathe. Relax. It’s all going to work out,” she advises. “Diversify your skill set and embrace the change that comes with learning more.”

As a technician (Electronics) in the company, Mmono Mokhuthu highlights safety as a paramount value in mining, and encourages everyone to prioritise compliance with regulations and follow proper procedures.

“Develop a deep understanding of mining equipment and systems, focusing on maintenance, troubleshooting and repair,” says Mokhuthu. “Your expertise will contribute to efficient and safe mining operations.”

Hennecke concludes that, as an organisation, all colleagues at BME play a role in driving the empowerment of women, to build a more equitable industry and broaden opportunities for everyone.

“Together, regardless of our gender identity, we can strive towards achieving our group’s purpose of innovating to enhance life, together creating a greener future,” he says.

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