A woman miner blazing through a male-dominated industry

The gold and diamond mining industry over the years has contributed significantly to the sustenance of many families. However, it takes lots of hard labour, long hours and courage to keep pursuing some of nature’s most precious minerals buried below.Deian Gordon is one of the few female miners in an industry dominated by men. She is also an executive member of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO). She understands the struggle in this sector all too well.Gordon, prior to taking up a career in gold mining, was engaged in street vending. She visited the interior only to understand how minerals are extracted from the earth, but that visit evolved into a business.As a woman in mining, Deian has found it to be very challenging. She is a reservoir of good and bad experiences in the sector.In a male-dominated field, Gordon has managed to rack up some 22 years in the sector but it takes strength and courage to keep persevering.“You have to be strong to work with the men… spirit, mind and body. You have to be able to stand up and demand that this is your job, you have workers, you have to respect, even though you are a female; they have to respect that they working with you,” she explained.Growing up with 11 brothers taught Gordon a great lot. So that gave her a little advantage working in a ‘man’s world’.As a woman in mining, she has learnt that one has to be calm, in the eventually a situation arises. “Like when they get a dispute in the backdam, like in your camp, you have a dispute with another worker, if you can’t go and make peace or try and get it down it will lead to that (chopping up)”.She explained that there are times when large investments are made in the mining operation with very little returns and then there are times when the rewards are bountiful; however, Deian said there is a slang that is often used by miners, “Dutty battam dark” which means you invest unsure of what will be your returns but you remain hopeful.The GWMO, along with a brother institution, have assisted in coaching Gordon in the mining field. Gordon through the organisation has been able to attend many training programmes, especially in the area of sustainable practices made possible by the organisation.The workings of the mining Industry are totally different from most sectors, she explained, “…because for me, my work starts at 5:00 am, sometimes you does gotta get up from 2-3 am (02:00-03:00h) pumping water and so forth out of the pit. So, you close off at 6 pm (18:00h) and depends on how the sun goes, you could go up to 7 (pm)… so it ain’t get a factor really like a 7 am (07:00h) to 4 pm (16:00h) work,” she noted.The GWMO executive said she was taught about the rules that govern the mining industry through the GGMC and the GWMO and abides by those rules.She also engages in sustainable working practices. After mining is completed in an area, trees are often replanted by her workers.To any dredge owner, Deian Gordon encourages to always have another business to assists in the steady flow of income due to the unpredictability of the sector.Additionally, being away from family is also considered challenging. Gordon enjoys going to the movies and hanging with friends, to “ease the brains” as she puts it.

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