Q&A: Meet Adelaide Mokonyama – The young geologist making mining fashionable

One of Arnot Opco’s rising stars is Adelaide Mokonyama. The 26-year-old geologist hails from Limpopo. She has been a member of the Arnot Opco family for just under a year. She is one of a growing number of women who are making inroads in this male-dominated sector. Here is her story:

What did you want to study while still in school?
Growing up I’ve always been an ambitious and artistic child. My first love has always been fashion design. But, I also always imagined myself in a white lab coat as a scientist. I had to make a tough choice between studying fashion design and daydreaming about making amazing garments, or becoming a scientist in a white coat, at least that’s how it played out in my head. As you can see, science won, I ended up studying natural sciences in the field of geology.

What attracted you to a career in Geology?
I was fascinated by how mountains and the landscape we see today were formed, and the natural processes at work. For me it was mind-blowing that the things we use in our everyday lives are made of minerals that are naturally provided by the earth.

Geology entails the discovery and identification of ore deposits and minerals. All that knowledge stems from the understanding of natural rock-forming processes. Geology is after all the foundation of what the mining industry is built on. If we do not know what we have under the earth, we cannot quantify it, therefore there would be no mines.

How would you describe your time so far as a Geologist?
I have been given opportunities to hone my skills and continuously develop as a young professional scientist. I have great support and mentorship within my department and the organisation. As a woman in the geoscience field, it has been fulfilling. I have also had the fortune of being exposed to strategic planning to re-establish the mine. These experiences have allowed me to better appreciate and understand the global view of the business and merge the technical aspect with other business value drivers.

Where would you like to see yourself in the next five years?
In the next 5 years I would like to be directly involved in the management and running of the business. I want to grow and improve my understanding of business drivers that generate value, impact decision making and basic financial metrics.

What do you like about working at ARNOT OPCO??
Arnot Opco is pioneering a new model, not just for coal mining, but for business. A model that is not only built on revenue generation, but, with a focus on greater community outreach as well. People are at the forefront of the business and the culture is conducive for growth, innovation and creativity. As a young black woman, it is inspiring to be a part of a female-led organisation. believe I am a part of a group of professionals who are taking the lead in changing the industry and challenging the status quo.