The SAIMM is a professional institute with local and international links aimed at assisting members source information about technological developments in the mining, metallurgical and related sectors.
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Thursday, 11 August 2022 at 12:00,
via Zoom

To join us click here


1. Welcome
2. Confirmation of minutes
3. Obituaries
4. Honorary Life Fellowship
5. Brigadier Stokes Memorial Award
6. Announcement of awards, medals and certificates
7. Annual financial report for the year ended 30 June 2022
8. Declaration of election of Office Bearers and Members of Council for the year 2022/2023
9. Election of auditors and legal advisors for the year 2022/2023
10. Corporate Partnerships
11. SAIMM new offices
12. Outgoing Presidential Award
13. Induction of President—Z. Botha
14. Presidential address
15. Vote of thanks

Presidential Address

Collaboration and Diversity in STEM

Why do mega projects so often fail? If one of the reasons for failure is bad relationships, is there value in diversity and inclusion to foster collaboration during project execution? When we talk about diversity and inclusion, how do we foster involvement of our young would-be STEM engineers, to pursue a career in the STEM arena? How do we encourage women to sit at the STEM table and to participated in the conversation? According to neuroscience, when functioning in a group, the masculine brain tends to rank in order, where the feminine brain tends to side together (Dr Etienne van der Walt, MD Neurozone). Translated into working within a team, it seems like the masculine brain inspires goal setting and competition, whereas the feminine brain inspires collaboration and empathy. Could the merging of these two leadership styles foster collaboration and innovation? And what would be the role of the team leader in creating the space for a team to show up and do this work together?

Because of my own journey, one of my goals will always be to develop an environment where young women want to step into leadership roles and feel free to sit at the table. I want everyone to have the courage to attempt a career in STEM, before they decide not to engage.

These questions are at the forefront in this mining and construction case study. The study is based on my own personal leadership journey and my own willingness to explore. It also shines a light on the impact of

  • Social safety
  • Power in relationships
  • Strategies to manage diverse stakeholders
  • Courageous conversations around diversity and inclusion
  • Culture ’drivers’ of a high-performing team

Among other data shown in this study, a report from the World Economic Forum (Sossamon, 2018) shows that even with gender equality, equal education and equal opportunity (i.e., ‘free choice’), women still choose more collaborative environments, which usually do not include science, technology, engineering, nor mathematics (STEM). This phenomenon is referred to as the gender-equality paradox. The study mentions that there must be something in even the most liberal societies that’s nudging women away from maths and science, even when those are their best subjects. Although there are no clear conclusions in this study regarding the cause of this phenomenon; one of the recommendations is that women-in-STEM could focus their efforts on those young, would-be STEM women; specifically, forming a programme specifically aimed at creating positive environments for girls to interact with STEM ideas (Reinking, 2018). Therefore, in my own opinion, creating an environment of collaboration, especially in mining, engineering, and construction, becomes even more important. ’Engineering and engineers are central to the process of innovation, and innovation drives economic growth. Diversity of thought is crucial to creativity, and by leaving women out of the process of innovation we lose a key component of diversity and stifle innovation’ (, 2017).

My message will always be, have the courage to show up and test the environment. Courage over comfort.

Zelmia Botha Biography

Zelmia Botha 26072022Zelmia Botha was born in 1981 in Pretoria. She completed her high school career in Rustenburg and applied for a mining bursary from Iscor. However, she started her studies in metallurgy and has never looked back. She completed her BEng degree in metallurgy at the University of Pretoria, as well as her BEng Honours Degree.

Zelmia started her career in iron ore, evaluating the properties of Iscor iron ore in price negotiations with India and China. She moved to coal process engineering in 2008, where she was exposed to both LSTK and EPCM projects. This offered her the opportunity to become involved in the full project life cycle, from the tender and adjudication phases to creating and reviewing BOOM, BOOT, and commercial contracts, to contracts close-out. She also had the opportunity to be involved in carbon, coal, and coking coal projects in India and China and worked with multi-disciplinary teams in both countries until 2011.

In 2017 she was offered an opportunity to move from a highly specialized environment into a leadership role and she became the Commissioning Manager of the R5 billion Grootegeluk Expansion Mega-Project in Lephalale. This was a turning point in her career and her experience has highlighted the importance of building relationships, effective stakeholder management, diversity and inclusion, and innovation in the success of any mega project.

She now not only believes in the power of knowledge, but also the power of relationships, connection, innovation, and learning. She wants to build a safe space for team members to grow into a diverse, high-performing team where innovation can flourish.

Zelmia is also involved with the SAIMM, where she started with the annual SAIMM Student Colloquium. She has since been one of the Steering Committee members for the Technical Programme Committee (TPC), involved in the SAIMM’s Committee: Diversity and Inclusion in the Minerals Industry (DIMI) and serving as an Office Bearer.

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