By JOHN CHOLA
AT only 32, Kansanshi Mining Plc’s mining engineer Maambo Malambo is Zambia’s Mining Woman of the Year 2017.
Maambo was crowned at the prestigious Zambia Chamber of Mines (ZCM) annual Gala Awards of Excellence held at Ndola’s Marriot Protea Hotel on November 2, 2018.
According to the five-member panel of judges, Maambo has demonstrated exemplary service, leadership and professional integrity and has been a true role model.
The judges also said that Maambo exhibited innovation, was always ready to try new things and had led trials for alternative blasting methods and techniques that led to less costly methods of secondary blasting.
“Maambo is instrumental in the development of the process and structure of fatigue management, which uses technology and counselling to drive and build a safer mine.”
Her adherence to safety rules and regulations, as well as her demonstrating value addition in her area of work, easily caught the judges’ admiration.
“Contrary to some perceptions out there that for a woman to succeed at something, she needs to be favoured, I am here as a true example to other women that it’s possible for us to compete and be able to emerge triumphant,” said Maambo.
In an interview after receiving her honours, Maambo said she believed her company had not given her any special treatment in her journey to scooping the crown.
“First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi Mining Plc has given me whatever is required to perform and produce results. I am one person who always looks out for the newest products, things that can help us solve the problems that we encounter on the mine,” Maambo said.
“To First Quantum Minerals and Kansanshi Mining Plc, I wish to say, ‘Job well done.’ This award has been because of teamwork – I wouldn’t have done it without the mine and without the opportunities they have given me,” she said.
Maambo has worked for First Quantum’s Kansanshi Mining Plc in Solwezi for seven years now and is a beneficiary of the mine’s sponsorship of her Masters’ programme in Mining Engineering which she acquired from Camborne School of Mining in the UK in 2015.
She said that even within her organisation, there are more women on the processing side but not in mining engineering, a scenario she longs to see overturned someday.
“On the processing side, I have many female friends there – some of them are metallurgists and chemical engineers – while on the mining side, unfortunately, there are not many. I don’t think it’s against all odds that I am a female mining engineer: I pushed for it. I started off on the processing side, and after some years there, I went back to school and did mining engineering,” Maambo said.
The Mining Woman of the Year 2017 award is not the final destination as far as Maambo is concerned. She has set her eyes on the Mining Personality of the Year and has already started counting her steps towards that.
“I am going into the general category. I am going to compete with everybody, including men. My projection is that I must do the best to earn myself that title of Mining Personality of the Year 2019,” affirmed the ever-smiling Maambo.
She is passionate about giving back to her country through exemplary service and total loyalty to the company and nation.
Maambo believes that, having been exposed to some of the best mining companies in Zambia, she may be ready to serve the industry on the global stage in about five years.
“I think my vision to experience mining at a global level is possible because I currently work for First Quantum Minerals, which has other mines around the world, and I want to experience that from them out there,” Maambo said.
She also challenged young girls now in school to go for courses in subjects that have been predominantly male occupations.
“To a little girl out there and a fellow woman, I would wish to say to you, don’t believe in the people who say, ‘You shouldn’t do this – you are a woman; you need to do something else.’ Just believe in yourself and go ahead and do it.”
“Girls need to believe in themselves, and most importantly, they need to put in their work. There is this issue of gender equality where people just want to look good and say we should appoint women in certain positions. I don’t believe in that – I want us women to work hard for the positions which we want.
“I went to a convent school somewhere in southern Zambia, and the only subject options they had for us were typing and home economics, among some of those regular subjects. I can, however, tell you that by a turn of events, I moved from that school and ended up in a co-education school; that’s where I was exposed to other subjects.
“I went straight into a class for pure sciences. I started and discovered that I was best at physics, so I went into doing maths, biology and chemistry. I actually discovered that some of the schools aren’t doing enough for the girl-children when they restrict them to some low subjects,” Maambo recounted.
After her secondary education in Zambia, Maambo agreed with her parents that, that to escape the regular disruptions that characterised local universities, she be sent to the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she graduated within time in civil engineering.
Maambo holds a master’s degree in mining engineering, which she feels is for now adequately helping her focus on getting experience in the industry and may encourage her to pursue more master’s degrees before having a go at a PhD. At FQM’s Kansanshi Mining Plc, Maambo has demonstrated value addition by driving and helping to develop the Xplo-logger handheld blast data application in conjunction with BME for more real-time and innovative use of technology in mining.
She has shown a disposition for motivating others and demonstrated her excellent team spirit through continuously working with various departments.
“Her ability to get results is the best based on the ability to build and leverage relationships. She is sharp and fair, and her concise style of management and teamwork drives results and cooperation. She is currently mentoring and training a group of seven junior mining engineers as a part of their development and training,” reads Maambo’s Mining Woman of the Year 2017 score sheet.
Maambo has also effected significant positive change working in geology, mining and mineral processing in Zambia, and she has always been instrumental in the development of the safety management process for root-cause identification and remedial action close-out.
She has also been influential at work in quantifying the safety and financial benefits that arise from several investments in new technologies, which has already led to the implementation of alternative designs for hauling truck trays as well as road construction and surfacing equipment.
Maambo encourages other women miners who didn’t win this time to keep pushing and competing with other people in their respective fields.
She says as one who has fairly competed with other engineers, including males, in her organisation that the award makes her feel that she is more reliable and can produce as good a result as some of the other seniors of the trade.
“To my company, I would say, ‘First Quantum Minerals’ – because in my seven years with them I have worked for quite several of their units – ‘thank you for the opportunity.’ I am sure they are happy with the results that I have given them from the opportunities that they gave me. The company believed in me, and through our team efforts, we can deliver even better results.”
– SUMA SYSTEMS.