Determined and eager to learn more

Kakunauua Uazeua, a mine geologist at Debmarine Namibia, is an adventurous young woman who believed from a young age that she does not want to be confined to an office but wants a career that combines both office and field work.

22 January 2021 | People

Monique Adams

Besides spending time with her son and family, she loves dancing, travelling, appreciates being home and trying out new recipes.

Born in a village called Ombuyovakuru, close to Okakarara in the Otjozondjupa Region, she was raised with four of her sisters in Windhoek by both her parents and started her school career at Martti Ahtisaari Primary School in Wanaheda.

Uazeua completed high school at Deutsche Höhere Privatschule Windhoek (DHPS) through a scholarship opportunity. After high school she was offered a bursary by Skorpion Zinc Mine and did her undergraduate studies at the University of Stellenbosch.

She completed a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences and an honours degree in applied geology.

After her studies she joined Skorpion Zinc Mine as a graduate geologist but still continued with her studies and while working for the mine she attained a certificate in business management from the University of South Africa (Unisa), as well as commenced with a master’s in economic geology at Rhodes University.

“I was fortunate enough to be at a school that assisted us with choosing a suitable career through psychometric tests. In addition, I was fortunate enough to know Mr Simon Hengua, also from my home village, who had studied geology and whom I could consult for advice prior to commencing with my studies. I therefore chose my career based on my personality, through research and advice from a role model,” she says.

In January 2017 she joined Debmarine Namibia as a project geologist in the mineral resource strategic project section, a position she held for two years before being promoted to a senior project geologist in January 2019.

She then got the opportunity to do a second master’s degree in marine geology and geophysics at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.

“Having a master’s in marine geology and geophysics has opened doors for me not only in the marine industry but also in the offshore construction industry.

“I worked with world-renowned geophysicists at the university, from whom I acquired an enormous amount of knowledge and skills that can surely advance my career,” she says.

Uazeua explains the difference being a geologist for a sea mine versus a land mine is that on land, particularly in an open-pit mine, a geologist has visible and tangible rocks to assess and base decisions on.

“On a sea mine one does not see anything prior to mining and therefore needs excellent data-analytical skills and a very good imagination. That is called blind mining and is very challenging but also very exciting and rewarding.

“Marine geology and geophysics involve the measurement of the spatial distribution of the surface physical properties to characterise the rock sequences and mineral resources that may be present.

“These disciplines help us ‘blind’ miners to have an understanding of the subsurface and the distribution of the minerals and thereby enables us to explore and mine effectively,” she says.

One of Uazeua’s best memories at Debmarine is being given the award for excellent performance in 2018. It gave her a sense of appreciation and affirmed that all her hard work was not in vain.

The person she would most like to have dinner with is Jacinda Ardern, the prime minster of New Zealand.

“Her inspiration to me is twofold. Firstly, her leadership style is the type that puts the core human values first. This includes kindness, compassion, empathy, communication, care and respect.

“Secondly, she has proven to the world that woman does not need to choose between pursuing a successful career and having a family.

“I would certainly talk to her about what has groomed her into being the type of leader she is and also how our society can be convinced that women are capable of much more than the limits that have been set,” she says.

Just like all the things in life, if you want to venture in a certain career, you need to have a passion for it.

“To become a geologist in the marine sector, you need to enjoy physics and the use of technology because what sets you apart from land-based geologists is the daily use of geophysics and associated software. You should enjoy data analysis, be bold, decisive, self-confident and able to work with people,” she says.

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