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Cristina González is responsible for Radiological Protection of Berkeley Minera España. A company that develops a modern and sustainable mining project in the province of Salamanca. She is one of the four speakers who will participate on 31st of January at the eWoman Salamanca event organised by La Gaceta and Iberian Press, also with the participation of the CyL Board on successful women in the business world and in the digital and technological environment.
Cristina studied Mining Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Madrid and holds the title of Expert in Radiological Protection by CIEMAT, the maximum training recognised by the official body in his sector.
What is your work being for more than 4 years as head of Radiological Protection of Berkeley Minera Spain?
My job is to ensure that all the activities that Berkeley carries out now and in the future comply with the legislation and requirements regarding radiological protection; guaranteeing a sustainable project with the surrounding environment.
What is the best part of your job?
What I like the most about my work has been to see the project growing year after year and to grow with it, professionally and personally.. We are working to develop a modern and sustainable mining project, where extractive activities are compatible and synergistic with the rest of the activities currently carried out in the area, as is the case with many other industries.
And the most difficult part?
It is frustrating to see how people can lie publicly in the media about our project and about the people who work on it, without any knowledge, scientific rigor or objectivity, and that everything goes unpunished. I guess it happens with many other investment projects, but that does not stop it from being frustrating.
It is a lie that uranium mining is incompatible with farming, agriculture or life. However, atrocities that are constantly heard, when in our case, the province of Salamanca has coexisted with this type of activity without problems, and even more so, obtaining an undoubted benefit of it. Also, you have to have a bit of a broad view and see what happens in the rest of the developed world. Countries with a high standard of living and environmentally well recognised with reserves of this mineral, (such as Canada, Australia or USA) have currently important uranium mining operations. And why not Spain? Obviously it is important to have a strict and quality regulatory legislative framework which guarantees that things will be done well, and Spain, has it.
Your decisions are essential for the protection of the environment, people who live in the area and the workers. What safety measures does Berkeley take?
Berkeley is very committed from the point of view of radiation protection, safety and health and the environment with the people around us. The radiological legislation is extensive and strict, the surveillance of the facilities is a highly regulated activity. We have extensive environmental monitoring plans in which we study the current environmental quality (of rivers, soils, fauna, flora, air €), before any extractive activity begins. In the future when mining activities begin to guarantee that the environmental conditions do not change. Likewise, the project is continuously evaluated by the Nuclear Safety Council.
How did you start your career in Berkeley?
After finishing my degree, I did an internship at Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción, which at that time was collaborating with Berkeley in the topics of Radiological Protection. During that time, I completed my final project on the Salamanca Project. By that time, there was a vacant position in the company, so I was given the opportunity to join Berkeley.
Have you faced barriers in the business world for being a woman?
Probably there are things that are not changing in the right way and that could be done better. In general, I think we are moving towards a society in which there will be equal opportunities and prime meritocracy, regardless of whether you are a man, a young woman or old. In my particular case, Berkeley has a strong commitment to incorporate women into the professional world. When there are selection of personnel there are always woman on the candidate list. There is no distinction between men and women when hiring.
Is professional success compatible with family life?
Yes, I think it’s compatible. It is a matter of support and confidence in yourself, in the company and in the people around you. Being surrounded by a good team of people it is key for person’s success.
What are the keys to professional success?
In my case, succeed means to love your work, respect and feel respected by the people around you and give your best everyday.
Are women still showing a certain fear of risk?
I do not think it’s scary, but it takes more than 10 years to change a culture. The important thing is that each time the number of women entrepreneurs and workers are increasing, reaching the record last year. Also, the projects led by women have a lower failure rate than those projects leading by men and that is important because it helps to entrench us.
What would you say to women who fight for their dreams?
To be honest, I would tell them that the key is to love what you do. Things are not always easy. If you do not know what you want, work for it, be surrounding yourself with people with good values and be able to adapt to changes. It is clear that things are not easy, but in the end, if you do not stop fighting, your dreams come true.
The Salamanca mine is being developed to the highest international standards and the company’s commitment to the environment remains a priority.
Berkeley Energía continues to work towards securing approvals for Salamanca
According to Proactiveinvestors: “Over the past decade we have invested over €70mln into the Salamanca mine which is located in a region suffering from some of the highest levels of youth unemployment within the European Union.”
Read more: https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/207066/berkeley-energia-remains-firmly-committed-but-need-local-approvals
The entirety of the population of Retortillo, half the population of Villavieja de Yeltes and many more residents from other towns surrounding the project have signed a petition to show their support for Berkeley‘s Salamanca mine. The petition currently has nearly 1,500 signatures.
At a recent event organised in Retortillo, members of the Berkeley staff joined local residents to publicise their support for Berkeley’s €250 million investment, which will create over 2,500 direct and indirect jobs.
La Gaceta featured a large article on the event highlighting that local support for the project is ‘massive and unanimous’ and ‘supporting and developing the local communities are two of the foundations on which Berkeley’s project is based.’
Local residents cited job creation, which will allow young people to remain in their hometowns and reverse decades of depopulation, as a key reason for signing the ‘Si A La Mina’ petition. Already, the majority of the team on site have been recruited from the local area and the Company looks forward to adding to this workforce in the coming months.
To date, the Company has received over 22,500 job applications with 400 of those coming from villages surrounding the project and of those, over 110 from Villavieja alone, which represents 25% of the population of the village.
Paul Atherley, Managing Director of Berkeley Energia, said:
“We are thrilled that so many local residents turned out to support our project over the past few days demonstrating the huge amount of support for the Salamanca mine, which is located in a region experiencing some of the highest levels of youth unemployment in the European Union.
Earlier this year the Minister of Economy and Finance for Castilla y Leon, Pilar del Olmo, heralded the investment that the Company is making in the region, commenting that the Salamanca mine will bring ‘a generation of direct employment.’
Development of the mine will stimulate the return of services such as schools, petrol stations and transport to the local villages and will help to bring back some of the 25,000 mainly young people who left the area last year to look for employment.
If young people want to stay and take on the meaningful careers that are created by economic development, they will get married and hopefully have families which will rejuvenate once-thriving local villages.
We are incredibly proud of our investment and the rejuvenation it will bring to the local community.”
“Last Wednesday, Berkeley Energía, a company specializing in the mining sector, debuted on the Spanish Stock Exchange with the traditional bell ringing. An operation carried out through a tri-listing connecting the stock exchanges of Spain, London and Australia, the first of these characteristics in the Spanish market. Berkeley debuted on the parquet floor of Madrid with a rise of 51.9%.
The company of Australian origin with British headquarters is developing a mining project in the region of Salamanca for the extraction of uranium.”