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Trainee program at Chinese-owned mine
nurtures young Namibian women to excel

WINDHOEK (Xinhua) -- Safety helmets, overalls, safety shoes and lab coats are what Catherine Shifotoka, and Iyaloo Amadhila wear on a daily basis at a Chinese-owned mine in Namibia.

Twenty six-year-old Shifotoka works as a Junior Metallurgical Engineer, while Amadhila, 27, is a Chemist at the Husab Mine, one of China’s biggest single investments in Africa, and over the years the duo has managed to climb the ladder from trainees to their current positions.

Shifotoka studied Bsc (Honours) Metallurgical Engineering from the University of Namibia, while Amadhila graduated with a BSc Degree in Chemistry and Geology (Honours) in 2015 at the same university.

Upon completion of studies the two were enrolled at the graduate trainee program at the Husab mine for two years.

“I have been with the mine for two and half years now, of which the two years I have been a Metallurgical Engineering Trainee and successfully completed my training program. I am currently employed as a Junior Metallurgist,” Shifotoka told Xinhua in an interview.

According to her, when she started the career at the mine, she had been actively involved in plant operations. Part of her daily tasks involved analyzing and interpreting performance trends and variances and subsequently initiating the required changes in the plant.

“As a young and dedicated Metallurgist over the two year training program, I was privileged to have met and worked with some of the best project engineers the world has to offer. I was quite fortunate to have been involved in such a distinguished and diversified project,” she added.

Shifotoka told Xinhua that since then her growth at the uranium mine has been huge.

“I gained hands-on experience on the entire processing plant circuit, with extended insights on the processes which play an extremely huge aspect on the recovery of uranium from the ore we receive from mining,” she explained.

According to Shifotoka, her plans are to continue growing and build her career.

“I would like to continue contributing to the effective concentration and purification of uranium production by continuously developing new methods to increase uranium concentration in solution streams,” she said.

Amadhila, one the other hand, told Xinhua that upon completion of her studies in 2015, she got employed at the mine as a graduate Chemist.

“In this role, I went through a training program for two years which groomed me and allowed me to pick up the skills, expertise and technical know-how required for my current position,” she added.

During her training she picked up a lot of experience as she was involved in exciting projects such as the setting up of the lab.

“This was a great experience as it allowed me to learn from my seniors and practically apply the theoretical knowledge gained at university. Upon successful completion of my program, I was then promoted to Chemist,” she added.

Amadhila said working for the mine has been a great opportunity and she feels privileged to be part of such a dynamic team of individuals from all walks of life.

According to the two young women, since the development of the mine, its contribution towards employment creation, skills transfer and the country’s economy as a whole has been stellar.

“Being part of the employees at the mine has improved the economic situation of many people and in doing so, contributed to the country’s economic growth. I believe that Husab mine has made great strides in the development of semi-skilled, skilled and professional employees. The graduate internship program is a classic example of this,” Amadhila said.

Despite the various challenges associated with the mining industry, the two young ladies are convinced that if they continue to work hard, they can significantly contribute towards the overall performance of the mine as well as gain exposure to other areas of the operations.

Currently the Husab mine is one of the biggest uranium mines in the world. Permanent employees at the mine were numbered at 1,620 by the end of 2017, in addition to 176 temporary employees and 522 contractors.

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