Women in mining: Base Titanium is setting the pace on inclusion

The Base Titanium mining plant in Kwale County as captured on June 29, 2022.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Base Titanium is the Kenyan subsidiary of Australia-based Base Resources, which is focused on mining mineral sands. Base Titanium operates in Kwale County along the coastal strip, some 50km south of Mombasa. The company says its approach to business involves enriching people, nearby communities, and stakeholders, through creative development of mineral resources.

One of its operational agenda is to champion inclusivity in diverse respects. And it does so both within and outside. On the aspect of gender for instance, Base Titanium has within its ranks a number of women who are making decisions and impact across its business and social operations. Nation writer Millicent Mwololo spoke briefly with four of them. Here are their perspectives:

There is space for more women at Base Titanium: Alice Githiomi, Technical Services Manager

Photo credit: Base Titanium

Q. What does your daily role entail?

I manage geology surveys and mine planning functions. Mine planning is a daily account of what we are expected to mine in terms of where and how much ore we will be mining, the mineral content of that ore, and when we expect to finish one mining location and move to the next.

Q. What challenges have you faced in your career?

Being a woman in the mining industry, sometimes you have to speak up a bit and be assertive to get your voice heard. It pays to hang in there, do a bit more work and more research to ensure that whatever you come up with is fool proof.

Q. Have there been efforts within Base Titanium to give women a voice?

There has been progress to create space for more women. Over the last five years, there have been more women in the management team. In my department, I ensure that whenever we are recruiting, we take in a lady and a man. The company is deliberately giving opportunities to females in every department when recruiting.

Q. Your advice to young women?

If getting into the mining industry is what you would want to do, just get the right training, apply for jobs, and look for those opportunities. There are quite a lot of women getting into these fields, and there is a lot of support out there.

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I enjoy working for my people: Mwanaharusi Khamisi, Community Programmes Manager

Photo credit: Base Titanium

Q. What do you enjoy most about your work?

As a Community Programmes Manager, my duties allow me to mingle with the community members. This works well for me because I am a very sociable person. I also enjoy my work because I am a native of this place. When I work for my people, I feel very proud at the end of the day because it is like I am delivering to myself.

Q. Highlight some of the programmes you are working on.

I have initiated several community programmes at Base Titanium, including infrastructural projects in Kwale and Likoni. I am very proud. I feel that I have done a very good job in implementing the Infrastructure Development Programme. Some of the projects include the Magaoni Secondary School. This was my first assignment. It has progressed well. We also did the Likoni Maternity Wing and Theatre to serve the community in Likoni.

Q. What has been the impact of these projects?

Initially, many mothers who had been diagnosed for caesarean deliveries had to cross the Likoni channel by ferry to reach the Coast General Hospital. Now they don’t have to. The community is really grateful for the Likoni Maternity Wing and Theatre.

The Livelihoods Project, which we started in 2014, has been very successful to the community too, in both agricultural and livelihood development. In 2013, I initiated a scholarship programme that has been a very successful story. I am very grateful to still be part of the people sustaining this project.

Q. What inspires you?

I am trained in community advocacy and social work, and it fits very well in what I am doing. The motivation comes from within me. I try never to give up. When I find that there is a difficulty somewhere, I sit down, reflect on it, and ask questions. I get to know what can be done to overcome the challenge. This motivates me every day.

Q. What is your advice to young girls?

Never give up in what you intend to do. Have the highest integrity that you can have as a person, not as a woman. Always trust in your instincts and ask God for guidance.

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I am inspired by making a difference in someone’s life: Christine Mwaka, Acting Social Engagement Manager

Photo credit: Base Titanium

Q. What does your job entail?

As a Social Engagement Manager, I handle issues to do with the resettlement and compensation programme, stakeholder engagement system, and community grievances. This is a role that has previously been handled by men.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?

My job entails engaging and interacting with the communities. It makes me happy when I dialogue with communities to develop solutions to whatever challenges they may be facing.

Q. What are some of the key highlights in your career?

The Mentor Mothers Project, which is part of our Health Programme, has been so successful that it has gained recognition from UNAIDS. Similarly, the Blood Bank Project that we worked on together with Kwale County Government is setting the pace in terms of public-private partnerships, in supporting health services delivery in the county, and is helping many people in Kwale and Mombasa too.

Q. What have been some of the challenges?

There have been several of them, bearing in mind that my work entails dealing with the communities and handling their grievances. Luckily, we have Liaison Committees at every level, starting at the village level to the sub-county level. This way, we provide forums and avenues for the community members to air their grievances. Also, we have regular meetings to discuss and develop solutions to whichever challenges we have.

Q. What inspires you?

I am inspired by waking up, coming to work, and making a difference in someone’s life. Many a time I get a call from a community member and they are just appreciating how I have been able to sit down with them, discuss the challenges, and give guidance on some solutions.

Q. Your advice to young women?

Believe in yourself and grab every opportunity that comes your way. Some of the good opportunities come in not-so-appealing packages. Just believe in yourself, get in confidently, face every challenge, and move on. 

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I feel very safe working for Base Titanium: Elizabeth Kyalo, Port Manager

Photo credit: Base Titanium

Q. What does your job entail?

I joined Base Titanium in 2013 as a Shipping Superintendent. My background is shipping; commercial shipping, which is a sector in the maritime industry.

Q. What are you most proud of at work?

My team. I have a motivated team that collectively achieves objectives and overcomes challenges. Also, my personal beliefs and character are in line with my employer’s core values. I feel very safe working for this company because it believes in absolute integrity.

I have enjoyed a good working relationship with my managers, where the lines of communication are clear. This helps me keep my professional objectives and my work assignments focused.

Q. Share some of the challenges that hinder women from mining.

Mining is male-dominated. This reduces its appeal to women. We also do not have enough role models for women. In mining, the jobs are not very flexible, especially if you have to work in shifts. This is becoming a generational issue, even with younger employees who want more flexibility.

Having the right skills is important for women to be competitive in the mining sector. We need to have more training across the country for women to get into the mining sector.

Q. What policies do we need to ensure gender equity in the mining industry?

We need policies that promote the training of more women in mining and extractives, and that create more opportunities for women to get into that space. Companies should also be required through policy to declare their gender index reports and publicise their gender ratios so that we can see what it is they are doing to create opportunities for women.

Q. What inspires you?

Success inspires me. I need to be able to do what I have in my capacity to succeed so that I can inspire other people. My background is in shipping and I am practising shipping in the mining industry. These are both male-dominated sectors. Being successful is something that inspires people, not just in mining, but also in the shipping industry.

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