Mining engineer and MinEx Board member Kristy Christensen has been named among 100 women who highlight the wealth of
female talent in the extractive sector worldwide.
Kristy is the New Zealander chosen from a record 626 nominations in the fourth edition of the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining
, run by the Women in Mining UK organisation.
It says those who feature were selected “due to their inspiring contribution towards a stronger, safer and more
sustainable mining industry.” In the e-book detailing the stories of the 100 women, Kristy says she wears two hats – one
as a senior mining engineer for an ironsands company – the other as an advocate for more female-friendly workplaces in
the extractives sector.
Now in her thirties, Kristy qualified as a geologist at Auckland University and had two years at Heritage Gold at Waihi
before moving to an underground coal mine in central Queensland - the only woman in the 1,200 strong workforce. She was
banned from going to her underground training for the first half hour as the trainer didn’t believe a woman would be
working underground She then faced issues including no female toilet on shifts of up to 12 hours and PPE designed for
After a move to a Wollongong mine, she fell pregnant. “After two years of infertility, when the day came, I was
terrified and nauseous at seven weeks and I had no idea what to say to my workplace and when. I was the first to be in
this situation and it felt lonely.” Kristy says her boss provided incredible support and she then worked to ensure there
were the procedures and support for future ‘underground mothers.’ She and her husband Jamin Christensen now have two
Since returning to New Zealand, Kristy has established a consultancy business Shesfreetobe
from her Waikato base to assist women working in the extractive and also to the wider business sectors who want to
improve their approach to recruiting and retaining female staff.
“It can be hard as an employee to talk about these barriers so I’m the conduit to enable those conversations to take
“I know what it’s like to be excluded and I work hard to build a sense of inclusion for future generations,” says
Kristy. “To create workplaces that reflect the communities that we operate in creates connection and a united sense of
purpose, which is game-changing.”
MinEx Board chair Chris Baker congratulated Kristy on the award. “This is a huge accolade to Kristy on behalf of all
women working in the extractive sector in New Zealand. She is ensuring those voices are being heard at board tables, in
canteens and contractors’ facilities around the country. We think we have equal opportunity but we want more women to
choose to work in our industry and Kristy’s work, and this recognition, will help achieve that. Women should feel
included and welcome in the industry – they are very much a part of its future here and around the world.”