Three Kenyans among most inspiring women in mining

Elizabeth Kyalo, port and shipping manager at Base Titanium, takes visitors round the company's plant in Kwale. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Three Kenyans are among 100 women from 60 countries feted as most aspiring ladies in the mining industry by the Association of Women Miners of the United Kingdom.

Elizabeth Kyalo and Melba Wasunna of Base Titanium, and Miriam Wairimu, founder and director of Mimo Gems Traders, were selected from a group of 626 women.

The 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining (WIM100) recognises women who have done exemplary work in the extractive industry across the world.

Women in Mining UK said they received more than 1,100 nominations for 626 women in mining working at 356 companies across 60 countries.

“The 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining publication is a living history of women who work in mining and highlights the wealth of female talent within the global mining industry, celebrates their “above & beyond” contributions to the industry, and identifies role models for future generations,” said WIM UK chair Carole Cable.

Kyalo is in charge of port and shipping at the Kwale Base Titanium’s terminal at Likoni in Mombasa while Wasunna is the firm’s External Affairs manager.

Wairimu, a geologist, was honoured for her struggles and achievements in the male-dominated industry. She described her journey out of poverty and into mining, eventually starting her own company as “a wonder”.  

Born into a poor family, Miriam’s dreams of higher education were dashed when her father died just after she completed high school.

“To support my family, I took up work as a housemaid. Later an opportunity knocked when an American gem dealer hired me as a tea maker and receptionist,” she said.

She saved her salary and used it to pay for her training in gemstones business. Seventeen years later, Mimo Gems is now one of the leading gemstone dealers, miner and creative artisan.

Wairimu is a certified expert in diamond and coloured gemstone identification, including processing from rough to full cut polished minerals, cutting, sorting and marketing.

Base Titanium’s Kyalo plays a critical role in the mining supply chain by ensuring that all minerals produced are shipped to the intended customers.

Her job encompasses scheduling, product haulage, ship chartering, shipping contracts, regulatory requirements, plant management and staff administration.

Wasunna, on the other hand, came to the mining industry through law school where she developed an interest in the inter-linkages between business and human rights. 

Her doctoral studies focused on human rights issues and actions in the extractive industry, revealing huge gaps in Kenya’s mining sector.

She founded the Strathmore Extractive Industry Centre at Strathmore University, Nairobi.

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