Warrior Princesses in Underground Mining

20 September 2017

(Right) The ladies operators operate the automated loaders at the Minegem control room. (Left) Minegem operations are conducted remotely from the control room on the 1st floor of OB 4 at MP 62.

Lend New Distinction to Wet Muck Operations

“This is a job requiring meticulousness, patience, and earnestness to adhere to equipment procedures. So although they sit over there and operate the loaders by remote control, there are many things that need to be to be attended to in order for the operation to proceed properly and safely. These women are inherently diligent, quick to learn, and are more concerned with the equipment they operate. Those are qualities needed for the job,” DOZ Mine Manager Sony Suryanto said when he was asked to comment on assigning women operators for wet muck operations in DOZ underground mining.

Yes, indeed, you will find something new and remarkable should you happen to visit the DOZ Mine’s Minegem operators’ room on the 1st floor of OB 4 at CIP MP 72. Instead of the usual men at the consoles in the Minegem control room, you will now see feminine hands manipulating the loaders by remote control.

When additional personnel were needed to operate production equipment, underground mine management made the decision to assign a number of female employees to become Minegem operators. This was bearing in mind that Minegem operations are conducted remotely from the control room on the 1st floor of OB 4 at MP 72, and therefore there was no breach of Government regulation on female employees working in underground mining.

Underground mining work is normally synonymous with men. However It doesn’t mean that women cannot do the job. 12 May 2017 was a milestone in that for the first time ever a female employee was granted full license to operate heavy equipment by remote control. After a relatively brief training time, the srikandis (Srikandi is a warrior princess in Javanese mythology) were able to master the equipment operation by remote control.

Now a total of 14 female employees are tasked with Minegem operations, of whom 5 are fully licensed and the 9 others are undergoing on the job training.

Operating the remote control system is not easy. While at a glance the work may seem like playing a game with everything automated, in fact the job carries a huge responsibility. As one underground mining female employee now fully licensed to operate Minegem, Christien Saraun observed, “Although we work outside the production area itself, we still bear heavy responsibility. One mistake could endanger employees working directly inside the mine.”  

Working in Minegem where the majority of employees are men is not making these warrior princesses feel inferior or uncomfortable, in fact it is spurring them to do their best.  Theodora Mayor who is still undergoing on the job training said, “It’s highly important for us to conduct ourselves in a proper manner in the workplace. It all hinges on how we comport ourselves. So far our relations with male coworkers are smooth and we are working compatibly with all of them.”   

The challenges facing the female operators at Minegem motivate them to constantly learn to become competent and reliable operators who put safety uppermost.  Minegem Operation Crew Leader Oseha Pekei remarked, “They are quick to learn, as evident in the fact that they were able to master the job in less than a month. Bringing in these female coworkers has greatly helped us.”  

The presence of the warrior princesses brings a new distinction to wet muck production operations. Patience, diligence and meticulousness that are inherent qualities of the warrior princesses are directly proportional to the skills needed for the job. Nor are the women less productive than the men. They receive constant training and mentoring to hone their skills for operating the remote control system.   

“We have high expectations of the new nuance in Minegem operation, not just for the brighter tone, but primarily so that we can boost mine performance and productivity. We are optimistic about this new move,” Sony Suryanto added. (Viesca Chrisnikasanty, edit by Sularso)


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