As a young child, when walking to school, she would see RBM vehicles driving past and she decided she wanted to work for the same company.

Little did she know that one day she would become the first African woman appointed to the position of manager, Mining Plants at RBM.

“It was my dream to work for Rio Tinto and here I am all these years later. When I joined the company I was a young girl with a vision. Through career growth and development opportunities offered by Rio Tinto, I have realised many of my goals,” says Thandi.

Some of these opportunities, says Thandi, have included being awarded a bursary for her undergraduate degree and being selected to participate in the African Leadership Institute’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship 2016 programme.

“The fellowship programme helped me to understand leadership better, how to interact with different people, and gave me a global perspective. Of course meeting Desmond Tutu was a highlight as he has such great vision for Africa,” says Thandi.

Thandi Mazibuko, the first African woman to be appointed manager, Mining Plants at RBM

Embracing diverse viewpoints

Thandi is a metallurgist and her first role at RBM, in 2005, was as an assistant operator. She completed several leadership programmes and is currently doing a course with the Gordon Institute of Business Science through the Rio Tinto bursary scheme.

“Rio Tinto embraces and values diversity. As a woman in the mining industry it can be challenging but the company has ensured that woman are accepted and supported in the business. On my journey I have had good mentorship and coaching.”

Although there are many opportunities at Rio Tinto for career growth, Thandi says that it is also up to each person to make an effort and take initiatives.

“When it comes down to it, you need to make things happen. It’s about hard work, perseverance and determination.

“It’s also about the small things too, like speaking up at meetings when you have something to add.”

Thandi is passionate about mining operations and leadership. She says she enjoys being in a company where the views of employees are welcomed and people are encouraged to give input where something can be done better.

“I’m fortunate to have found a company that is a good fit with my skills and my values.”

About Richards
Bay Minerals

About Richards
Bay Minerals

RBM is a world leader in heavy mineral sands extraction and refining and is South Africa’s largest mineral sands producer.

RBM is a world leader in heavy mineral sands extraction and refining and is South Africa’s largest mineral sands producer.

We mine the vast mineral rich sands of the northern KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, the mine produces predominantly rutile, zircon, titania slag, titanium dioxide feedstock and high purity iron.

Rio Tinto holds a 74 per cent stake in RBM and manages the operations. Blue Horizon, a BBBEE consortium consisting of lead investors and the four host communities, owns a 24 per cent stake, while the remaining two per cent of the shares are held in an employee trust.

RBM makes a significant contribution in the region through direct and indirect employment. RBM employs approximately 4,000 people with about half being permanent staff. Nearly 72 per cent of RBMs workforce is local and of the permanent employees nearly 40 per cent are from the four local mining communities.

Image: Mineral processing in the smelter at Richards Bay Minerals, South Africa