London – 13 June 2022: Women in Mining UK 2021 Summer Internship at Golden Star Resources – Mariama Adams
Written by: Mariama Adams
In 2021, I was a proud beneficiary of the Women in Mining UK paid summer internship programme for Golden Star Resources. I was brought on as a Mining Engineer intern to work at the Wassa Gold Mine in Ghana. I attained my bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Mines and Technology in Ghana.
Joining Golden Star’s incredible team at the time of the pandemic was full of suspense as I did not know what to expect. After successfully meeting all the requirements, the Mine Manager gave me guidance on how to make the most of my stay, during which I was exposed to the core sections of the Underground Department.
Underground Technical Services
I started my journey with the Technical Services team, where I broadened my knowledge in stope optimization and design, stope economics, block modelling, development design, slot design, ring design and preparing of charge plans. I gained practical understanding of the company’s mining method, stope sequencing and the ventilation system of the mine. It was a great opportunity to work with the survey team which is often regarded as the eyes of the mine. I assisted the team with marking out and picking up development faces, marking up rings, fixing lasers and working with the CMS (Cavity Monitoring System). The concept of overbreak and underbreak analysis was made simple for me to get a grip of.
My time with the Geotechnical team gave me a better view on stope stability analysis, ground support systems and backfill system (unconsolidated rockfill and pastefill). The application of paste in backfilling is very fascinating. This involves the recycling of tailings from the process plant and mixing with binder (cement) to form paste. The paste is pumped into underground mined out stopes (primary stopes). The purpose is to serve as a pillar during the extraction of the secondary stopes and to also increase ore recovery in secondary stopes. I got the opportunity to tour the paste plant and also visit the plant’s control room to understand the overall process.
My experience was balanced with my participation in underground operations activities. This exposure gave me insight and increased my appreciation of field work. Service works which is recognised as physically demanding was such an interesting experience. It was so fascinating to stand in an IT basket at height to support the service crew. Some of the activities we carried out include fan installation, service lines and vent bag installation and extension. Another exciting journey I embarked on was my active involvement in mine re-entry and development face management procedures. The blastmen did a great job on giving me a practical experience. I assisted them to prepare primers and further charge development faces and stopes. It was so interesting to be on a Solo machine as an offsider. I was exposed to how the Solo operates and also, how to set it up for drilling. I spent my last days in the section with the development and production Shift Bosses and Mine Captains in executing their duties. I got a grasp on production and development cycles and how to prioritise activities to achieve shift targets.
My duty was to assist Quality Assurance Quality Control (QAQC) team to identify the major factors contributing to overbreak and underbreak in the mine. The objective of the project was to minimise overbreak and underbreak in the mine. As part of my contribution to the project, I designed a data capturing and reporting system for the team.
Women of Wassa
The month of October is internationally recognised as a month for women. As such, it was full of activities for the Women of Wassa club which is headed by Evelyn Gifty Bilson. I joined a group of volunteers to assist nurses for a breast cancer screening which was organised for the communities in the mine’s catchment area. The month was crowned with Cervical and Breast Cancer Awareness and Screening Day which I participated fully.
I am thankful to Women in Mining UK and Golden Star Resources for this golden opportunity. The practical knowledge and experience gained has greatly impacted my career. Additionally, it has set me up for future opportunities and challenges in running my startup consultancy firm, IHTMOC Consulting.