Breaking new ground in a traditionally male industry, Takalani Randima is an inspiring role model for women in mining.

She began her career in 2008 as a trainee engineer on a mine, only a few years after women were legally granted the right to work underground in South African mines, before moving through the ranks of mine superintendent, site manager, senior contracts manager, and section manager. She has already led three major, highly successful shaft sinks, as well as numerous shaft and underground infrastructure projects.

Randima joined United Mining Services (UMS) in 2018 and currently holds the position of managing director for UMS Shaft Sinkers, the underground mining, construction, and development division of the United Mining Services Group.

This year UMS Shaft Sinkers is celebrating 60 years in the business, underscoring their solid reputation in the shaft sinking and performance in the underground mining arena.

Besides shaft sinking, UMS Shaft Sinkers offer the mining sector comprehensive shaft inspection, auditing, refurbishment, and rehabilitation services, designed to ensure optimal production output and safe operations in order to extend underground life of mine.

Randima holds a Bachelor of Mining Engineering and a Master of Engineering in Project Management and is well equipped to manage the highly skilled UMS shaft sinking and underground mining team.

UMS Group Business Services MD, Takalani Randima. Photo credit: UMS Group Business Services

UMS Group Business Services MD, Takalani Randima. Photo credit: UMS Group Business Services

Underground risk management is all in a day’s work for Randima who oversees the group’s southern African shaft sinking projects and the construction of shaft and underground infrastructure. Her mining engineering qualifications are matched by real knowledge and hands-on industry experience while confronting on-the-job challenges. Randima states that success in the industry is not all about big shaft sinking projects, but also optimisation and extending the life of mines.

One of Randima’s personal highlights in her career was the successful completion of a challenging shaft compensation tower installation project at Evander mine. “The scope of work called for innovative design approaches to protect the integrity of the shaft while undertaking shaft pillar extraction. This was achieved within budget and exceeding all time, quality and safety requirements,” she says.

Randima explains that no two shaft designs are alike, with factors such as position of the ore body, safety requirements, client infrastructure preferences, and ultimately return on investment influencing front-end engineering.

“UMS’s deep industry experience means we can consider all these elements, address challenges, and immediately find best fit solutions, taking a project from concept to completion. That’s where our competitive advantage lies,” states Randima.

By understanding and utilising the latest technology, Randima says UMS is able to undertake underground shaft exploration safely and cost effectively. Processes such as underground 3D laser scanning can deliver valuable data without unnecessary downtime, stoppages or safety risks, and empower engineers, geologists and safety officers by providing details of the spatial environment in which they operate.

The data collected is used to develop accurate models for planning and calculation, with time-saving benefits that far outweigh the cost of a laser scan survey.

Shaft rehabilitation is high risk work and can only be achieved safely when undertaken by experienced shaft specialists, which are provided by the UMS Shaft Sinkers division.

The UMS Shaft Sinkers specialists work closely with the engineers and design specialists of sister company, Mets, in providing optimal solutions to refurbish ageing mine shaft infrastructure. UMS Mets handle the engineering designs whilst UMS Shaft Sinkers handle the project execution. This seamless integration reduces risk to the client.

Randima is very optimistic about the future of the South African mining sector, and with the upturn in commodity prices, mining companies are rethinking investment into ageing mines to prolong life of mine.