KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya—After demonstrating their ability to perform jobs previously dominated by men like driving giant 100-tonner trucks and blasting rocks during the days of surface mining at the OceanaGold’s Didipio mine here, women miners are now going underground.
Three brave women who graduated from the underground mining simulation and training facility at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga—Marilou Nablul, Ofelia Magastino, and Alma Gonsay—have now assumed duties working beneath the surface recently.
Site Skills Training Philippines, who operates an underground mining simulator at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, awarded an “International Certificate II” to the first three women graduates among the 5th batch of graduates.
The previous four batches of trainees were all male. So far, the facility produced 54 graduates who are now part of the underground workforce of Didipio mine’s underground operation.
“This facility creates opportunity for a sustainable industry-ready workforce in the Philippines, and fosters advocacy to be abreast with current and progressing competencies,” SITE Skills claimed.
Prior to her involvement in the said work readiness program, Nablul worked for a contractor that manufacture explosives used in blasting. She became a blaster, an inspector, and a site in-charge at the Didipio’s open pit. Now she works with the underground surveying team.
Gonsay, a graduate of nursing, was a 100-tonner-truck driver at the open pit. Before getting certified to operate a giant truck, she went through a series of various vehicle handling from light vehicles to water trucks.
Magastino started as an assistant cook and housekeeping personnel of Didipio Community Development Corp., a community-based corporation funded by OceanaGold. In 2013, she became a bus and water truck driver which served as her stepping stone to the said training and employment opportunity. According to her, working underground has given her the chance to provide for her three children.
“I am more confident now. I learned how to discipline myself working at the underground,” Nablul said during her interview after her graduation.
OceanaGold wants to involve more women in the ‘Underground Work Readiness Program’ which aims to eliminate gender discrimination in the mining industry.
Women power in the mining industry. Out of the 20 women workers in this photo taken in 2015, only one woman worker (seated, 5th from left) wears a grey hard hat used in the underground.
Today, three more women who completed an “International Certificate II in Underground Mining” from Site Skills Training Philippines have recently joined the underground workforce.