A history of more than 100 years, when only men worked in underground mines in the Midwest region of Brazil, has a new chapter. In June, the first women started working at a Vale mine in Mato Grosso do Sul. This is the only underground mine operated by Vale in Brazil, and now it is recognized by the important role in the quest for gender equity.
Evanielly Heredia and Laura Castedo represent the company's goal of doubling the female workforce in Brazil by 2030. This commitment was highlighted by the global director for Personnel, Marina Quental, at an event about the role of women in mining. Marina criticized the idea that some activities would be too heavy for the female workforce.
For Evanielly, working at the mine is a synonym for joy. “I’m very happy. It's like a dream come true. I always wanted a job so that I could leave my mark. I feel this desire has finally happened,” says the operator of underground mobile equipment.
Laura’s experience is related to the history of her family. “My father worked in this mine for 25 years and then retired. He was one of those who motivated me to be here today. Being able to follow in his footsteps and still be part of this change is much more than I could have imagined.”
The executive manager for Midwest Operations, Romulo Rovetta, states that Laura and Evanielly are part of a growing movement. “They are part of the beginning of this change here in Mato Grosso do Sul. We expect to have more women in our operations by the end of the year. We are committed to promoting equality of opportunities between men and women in the mining industry.”
Learn More about Underground Mines
Underground mining is the mineral exploration in which the operations for extraction of the mineralized bodies are carried out underground. The tunnels drilled to access these bodies are also known as galleries.
In Brazil, gold is the most exploited mineral in underground mines. The methods and processes used in the Brazilian underground mines are advanced and similar, in terms of safety and mining methods, to the reference countries, such as Sweden, Canada, and Australia.
The ninth deepest mine in the world – and also the deepest when it comes to nickel – is in Sudbury (Ontario, Canada) and is operated by Vale. It is the Creighton mine. This year the venue was the scene of a record break; it hosted the deepest show in the world. Learn more.
Did You Know?
Queen Elizabeth was the first woman to enter an underground mine. It happened in 1939 when she was traveling with her husband, King George VI, through several cities in Canada, including Sudbury (where Vale has another underground mine).
The final activity scheduled at Sudbury was a visit to the Frood mine. The king and queen put on the appropriate suit and, in a small elevator, plunged into the depths of the nickel mine at 1,500 feet/minute. Due to the queen's visit to the mine, the underground operations were interrupted for a few months; at the time, people believed it was bad luck to bring a woman underground.
Check out Vale's Human Rights Policy
Check out Vale's human rights guide