Get to know the first four off-highway truck operators of Mina Aquila in Michoacán, Mexico.
Mina Aquila, located in Michoacán, has evolved significantly in recent years. Professional development, both from women and men, has been one of the main drivers of growth at Mina Aquila in recent years.
Such development has been achieved thanks to the several industrial programs of the company, which have been supported by strict training plans designed to encourage the incorporation of people into the company’s zone in positions where they seize their professional capabilities.
For example, the family members of registered elders, who are co-owners in Aquila, occupy positions in all sectors of Mina Aquila. Collaborators make it an excellent place for a long-term career plan.
Through several initiatives such as the Diversity and Inclusion Policy, the company works to be an increasingly inclusive organization with people from different backgrounds who contribute, based on their experience, to the continuous improvement of the company. One example is the recent incorporation of the first four female operators of off-highway trucks and eight border trucks in Mina Aquila.
The four operators, who started as frontiers, have marked a milestone in the history of that place, as they are responsible for transporting iron ore to the mine, then into the crusher, and the waste material to the border.
Breaking Off Stereotypes
Driving a mining truck is not easy, as this task requires a lot of training. Unlike the stereotypes and unaware biases that many people could come up with, anyone who sets his or her mind to it, regardless of gender, can join this type of job.
Araceli Villalobos, the first off-highway truck operator.
“I am so proud of myself because I showed that women can achieve anything, and I broke off the stereotype that women cannot partake in this type of jobs”, highlighted Araceli Villalobos, the first female operator to join. Before achieving this position, Araceli worked at a restaurant and took hairstyling lessons. However, in 2021 she had the opportunity to work in Mina Aquila, in the Logistics area.
“I didn’t have enough time working at the service area when I found out there would be job openings for 777-G and 777-F truck operators, also known as “haul trucks”. I asked if women could apply for the job, and they said yes. First, I applied for the job position as a border at Ternium, then as operator”, she recalls.
During the training, she was the only woman who had applied for that position and her personality helped her to never give up. “My family was worried about what people would think about me, knowing that I worked at the mine driving a truck. However, I’m the kind of person who is not concerned about other people’s opinions. I rather saw it as an opportunity for self-improvement and to achieve my dreams.”
After the 240 hour-long training, the competence evaluation in that position performed by internal and external personnel and the team brand’s dealer, Araceli became the first female operator of off-highway trucks.
The Domino Effect
As weeks went by, a domino effect occurred. Zury Martínez, another operator, noticed Araceli’s steps. She did not think about it twice: she wanted to become the second female operator.
“I used to own a butcher shop here in Aquila. I have two sons and my family that motivates me to achieve the economic stability that we need. When I found out that a woman was driving a haul truck at the mine, I didn’t hesitate. I visualized myself driving those trucks”, said Zury.
Shortly, Zury applied for the job. “Every day I asked if they would call me to take the position. I am very strong-willed, I never budge an inch.”
Like Araceli, Zury was trained in this job. After starting as a border, today she is part of the female operators that made history in the company. “I opened new possibilities and I feel so happy to partake in this position. I will give my all to demonstrate that this is not about gender, but ability.”
A Passion for Mines
Recently, Brenda Valencia, a mining truck operator, worked at the security area of Mina Aquila. “I was very eager to learn something new. I loved my old passion, but my ambition to keep growing led me to leave the security area and apply as a border, then as an operator in Ternium.”
However, the road was not easy. Once her family found out she had an interest in driving a mining truck, they became concerned. “It’s normal. They saw the risks involved, but I explained all the safety protocols and my commitment to this job. I always considered myself a person with a high sense of awareness in everything I do.”
Today, she’s living out her dream, as she never imagined she could drive a mining truck. “To me, all of this represents the removal of all my fears, breaking off paradigms and showing myself that I can achieve everything I set my mind to.”
Ana Gabriela Navarrete, also an operator, started driving when she was just a teenager. She recalls driving her father’s truck to support her family when an emergency would arise; back then, it never crossed her mind that she would be driving a 100 tons truck in a mine years later.
Today, she became the fourth female mining truck operator at 22 years old. Ana used to study a major in journalism in Colima. However, due to her father’s health condition and the COVID-19 risks, she had to take a break from school to support her family’s income.
“It was then when I found out about being an operator in the mine and being able to drive a machine as a 777-G or 777-F”, she recalls. “Since I was a kid, I always heard that there were no women in the mine, but having the opportunity to be here today means that I’ll be able to help break all those biases.”
Ana Gabriela Navarrete
More examples of diversity
Mina Aquila has become a workspace of opportunities for women and men, as it has been a motivation for young people around the area to pursue their university studies in the region.
So is the case of members and relatives of children from the indigenous community of San Miguel de Aquila in Michoacán, who thanks to their professional training, currently hold key positions for the mine’s operations.
Yesica Fernández, the operator of the Control Tower in Mina Aquila, is a Chemical-Metallurgical Engineer. “I think it is a great action and opportunity to incorporate more women in the various work areas. It is a good start-off, but we still have a lot to contribute for continuous growth.”
The control tower of a mine is one of the most important positions since it is where operations, security, and emergency systems are monitored, as well as the performance and productivity of the equipment, are followed up.