WiMSA Webinar - 9 September 2020, 11h00

The role of innovation and automation - impact on the mining workforce and role of women

The mining industry has historically been recognised as labour intensive, with conventional mining methods characterised by physically demanding manual drilling processes etc. The shift in thinking towards a “modernised” mine is due to a combination of factors including extending the life of mining operations, increased mining depths and health and safety dynamics. The introduction of technology is not a replacement of people with machines but rather a transition and transformation to the mine of tomorrow. The mine of tomorrow is technologically advanced with more modernization, digitization and opportunity- especially in light of the intention to increase the number of women in the mining sector.

Currently, women make up 12% of the mining workforce- a significant improvement from 10 years ago but still long way from a balanced workforce. The focus and introduction of technology will facilitate the improved representation of women, as the drive towards modernisation through technological innovations will not only make mining more attractive but also more accessible to women. 

The continued promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines among girls and women, and the opportunities in the mining industry will allow for increased numbers over time.


Petro du Pisani

Head of Business Improvement

Anglo American

Petro du Pisani is Head of Business Improvement Projects at Anglo American. She supports the implementation of Anglo American’s Operating Model and various business improvement initiatives across Platinum, Coal South Africa, Kumba Iron Ore and De Beers Canada. She has worked in the Mining Industry for over 25 years. 

She was a Gencor bursar and as a graduate worked across the world as an exploration geophysicist. Petro has worked as a geoscience consultant, geophysics researcher and has for the past 12 years at Anglo American transitioned from a technical specialist into Business Improvement. In 2018 she formed part of the CEO’s Elimination of Fatalities task force. 

Petro is the current deputy chair for Women in Mining South Africa, and in her spare time she hosts a podcast called “On Change.”

Sietse van der Woude

Senior Executive: Modernisation and Safety

Minerals Council of South Africa

Sietse has a Master’s degree in radiation physics. As Manager at the National Nuclear Regulator, he was responsible for the establishment of a regulatory framework for radiation protection in mining. 

He did his MBA with a focus on integrating sustainability issues into the strategy of businesses. He then joined Xstrata as a manager responsible for safety, health, environment and quality. 

In 2004 he was appointed as the Head of Safety and Sustainable Development in the Mineral Council (formerly Chamber of Mines) where he enjoyed being part of the mining industry’s safety and health enhancement initiatives. Since 2015 he serves as the Senior Executive: Modernisation and Safety and his purpose remains to help facilitate a people-centric modernisation of the mining industry.

Tebogo Marope 


Those Devs

Tebogo has 15 years’ experience in various roles in both the mining and consulting industry, gaining extensive experience in operational, technical and financial spheres. 

Tebogo began her Mining career at the then BHP Billiton (Khutala Colliery), before moving into the consulting space at SRK Consulting. Tebogo expanded her expertise into emerging technologies at Cyest Corporation / Business Science Corporation where she was involved in the layout design and analysis of new mining technologies within Anglo Platinum. 

She was also involved in the initiation of the Reality Science business area where she managed immersive Virtual Reality experiences for various industries. She is currently a Director at Those Devs, a custom software development company focused on delivering world class applications. Tebogo’s main responsibilities at Those Devs are business development, business process mapping and review, project management and data analysis.

Bongi Ntsoelengoe

Cluster Executive Manager – Mining


Bongi has had over 15 years’ experience in the mining industry having worked in iron ore and base metal commodities. Bongi holds a Master of Business Administration from GIBS, University of Pretoria and BSc (Eng) Honours (Metallurgical Engineering), University of Pretoria. She also has a Certificate in Business Management, University of South Africa and an Advanced Management Programme Certificate, University of Navarra, IESE Business School. 

She has held various positions in the mining industry, which has given her experience in the processing of minerals, delivering capital projects, technology research, innovation and modernisation across the mining value chain including marketing of commodities. Bongi also served as a member of the innovation steering committee at the Minerals Council of South Africa and she is also a Council Member for the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM). Bongi has recently joined the CSIR from Kumba Iron Ore Limited- – where she was responsible for leading Kumba’s digital technology strategy and innovation roadmap. She has been recognised as a leader in the field of mine modernisation, which led to her being a panelist at several conferences and most recently at the 2020 investing in African Mining Indaba.

Vanessa Naicker

Head of Early Talent

Anglo American

Vanessa Naicker works with business leaders in corporate, small and medium enterprises as well as young leaders across the world to realise value and impact in their areas of influence. She is passionate about technology and working with people to unlock opportunities for growth. 

She holds board directorships at Anglo America–sefa Mining Fund and Engineers without Borders South Africa. Vanessa has extensive industry experience spanning both the petrochemical and mining industries. She is a registered Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa and has a Master’s in Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. She is a highly motivated and passionate professional with extensive global and multi-commodity experience, having worked for the Anglo American Group for 22 years.

In her current role, Vanessa focuses on understanding the changing nature of work and its impact on the workforce and workplace and implementing strategies to build and develop an early careers pipeline that meets business needs.She has worked with operations in Australia, Europe, Canada, South America, China and Africa.