Destined for the mining life

Tue October, 29th 2019


Susan Botha – Process Engineering Manager

There was never any doubt in Susan Botha’s mind that she was going to pursue a career in mining.

Growing up in South Africa at a time when health and safety restrictions were a little less stringent, she could spend lunch times during school holidays visiting her father at the chromite mine where he worked and she was fascinated with all things mining and mineral processing.

“I just love chrome – the ore is black in its concentrated form but in the sunlight it has a beautiful shimmer,” Susan said.

“As a child I used to collect rocks and was fascinated with what my father did, so when I left school I worked with him in our family business.

“We did metallurgical consulting, testwork, designed, constructed and operated plants – my Dad taught me everything he knew without holding back and I still use so much of that knowledge in my job today.

“But he also ensured I had time to go to university – he said as a woman in mining I needed the qualifications to back up my experience.”

Susan completed a degree in chemical engineering and mineral processing, and remained working with her father for eight and a half years before relocating to Australia.

That was 13 years ago and she’s continued to work in mining and mineral processing since arriving.

She says she’s worked with just about every mineral on the periodic table and, as much as she’s a numbers person, enjoys the fact that in her role as Process Engineering Manager with Elastomers Australia, no two days are quite the same.

“I particularly love it when people throw challenges at me that I haven’t dealt with previously – and even more so if no one has resolved it and we need to come up with a new solution,” she said.

“I’m really lucky. I always felt that because we spend most of our waking hours at work, we need to figure out what we love – and make sure it suits our talents – then figure out how to get paid for it.

“I’ve never had a job I didn’t really love and that’s particularly the case in my role now – I get to meet all sorts of people, work across a whole range of minerals and resolve a wide range of challenges every day.”

Even when she’s home with her family, Susan says her hobbies involve an element of mining. She is an accomplished artist and draws using graphite.

“I just love the fact that it goes from the ground, through processing to become a pencil and then the results of all that effort end up on paper,” she said.

“It seems everything in my life ties back to mining one way or another.”