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Home / Career Talk:  Ndapandula Kaulikufwa, geologist at Rössing Uranium - Dare to dream, Namibian girl child 

Career Talk:  Ndapandula Kaulikufwa, geologist at Rössing Uranium - Dare to dream, Namibian girl child 

2024-05-23  Staff Reporter

Career Talk:  Ndapandula Kaulikufwa, geologist at Rössing Uranium - Dare to dream, Namibian girl child 

Not only is she breaking society’s patriarchal bearers in a male-dominated field, but Ndapandula Kaulikufwa is cementing her position with merit while creating endless possibilities for the Namibian girl child, proving that the sky is indeed the limit. 

Because of the intensive physical work, mining has been the playground of men. 

Ndapandula is the latest living testimony of Rössing Uranium’s success stories.

The resilient Ndapandula recently joined the Namibianuraniumgiant – and with no intentions for a slow start, she has hit the ground running.

She said, “My role is to oversee and manage exploration drilling programmes and all associated activities to guarantee that geology, geotechnical, hydrology and hydrogeology study level milestones are met to provide an adequate level of inputs to other study streams and achieve the overall goals of the business development department”.

The geologist said her goal in her new role is to work closely with other geologists, engineers, surveyors and stakeholders to share knowledge, exchange ideas and contribute to the overall success of the exploration project.

She started her mining journey in 2012 as an exploration geologist. 

There, she rolled up her sleeves in planning and managing geochemical sampling programmes, as well as managing drilling operations that have produced attractive gold prospects.

She said, “One of the most exciting parts of being an exploration geologist is discovering valuable mineral resources that can have a significant impact on economies, and create job opportunities for many. 

“Exploration geologists frequently have the chance to work outside in a variety of beautiful and diverse areas, both locally and globally. This is incredibly gratifying for appreciating nature by travelling and learning about new cultures,” she said.  

She added that determining exploration techniques and the challenge of evaluating geological data is a very intellectually- stimulating task.

Geological exploration generally carries a significant amount of risk and uncertainty. 

Exploration activities often take place in remote or rugged terrains, which can pose logistical challenges, and require geologists to work in harsh environmental conditions. 

However, Ndapandula says, “Despite large investments of time, money and resources, there is no certainty that economically-viable mineral deposits will be found when conducting exploration in an uncharted location”.

Furthermore, she highlighted market volatility and economic pressures as key influences in the mining sphere. 

“The exploration sector is vulnerable to changes in the price of commodities and the state of the economy. During downturns, this can result in job instability or the cancellation of projects, which can be stressful, since it impedes professional advancement.”

Like any other village girl, Ndapandula enjoyed a regular life in a village known as Onheleiwa. She remembers walking the corridors of Iipumbu Secondary School in Oshakati, where she completed grade 12. 

She was accepted at the University of Namibia into a science foundation programme for a year before moving to the Windhoek main campus to pursue her geology studies a year later.

“Being a student at varsity was a completely new page. This included new environments, demanding coursework, larger class numbers and more independent learning styles. This is in addition to balancing my personal and academic obligations.” To her luck, straight from varsity, she secured a job in mining. 

“The transition from university to working as an exploration geologist entails a shift from academic theory to practical application, from isolated study to teamwork, and from controlled conditions to dynamic fieldwork. Therefore, to succeed in this demanding but rewarding industry, it requires adaptability, problem-solving and the passion to discover.”

According to Ndapandula, exploration geologists play a crucial role in identifying potential mineral resource targets and discovering mineral deposits such as gold, silver, iron, uranium and rare earth elements (lithium, lead, etc.). 

Exploration geologists are also involved in the discovery and production of energy resources, such as oil and natural gas.

The mining industry is opening up for more women, and Ndapandula believes the opportunities are at every stop. 

Women interested in geology have additional education and training possibilities. Universities and colleges are recruiting and assisting females interested in pursuing geology.

In addition, the flexibility provided by many employers, such as remote work and flexible schedules, has made it simpler for women to manage their professional and personal duties, motivating more women to pursue careers in exploration geology.

“Employers, such as Rössing Uranium, are among the best in the industry at recognising and valuing women. I feel at ease here, and my ideas and suggestions are taken into consideration, which drives me to advance in my career.”

From an industry point of view, she advised higher commodity prices, such as those of uranium, indicate a rise in mining activities for operating on profit. 

The demand for exploration geologists’ services has increased too. 

A lot of uranium projects are under exploration, and mines are restarting operations. 

Oil, on the other hand, is still a vital energy source for industry transportation, especially in developing nations, where the search for or development of new oil discovery deposits is still ongoing to supply the growing global need for energy. 

Investors’ interest in funding oil exploration has increased because of the increased demand for oil.

“Dear young girl, you represent the planet’s future, and you have limitless ability to change the world. The world needs your creativity, wisdom and kindness. You have the chance to break barriers, control misconceptions, and motivate the future generation of women in all sectors. “Your distinct viewpoint and inventiveness will enable you to get beyond challenges, and contribute significantly to the geosciences. Remember that you are only starting on your scientific journey as a young girl, so grab the chance to make a difference.”

2024-05-23  Staff Reporter

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