Horn reveals the troubling truths of the mining industry in this insider’s account.
“Mining is one of the very few human activities that are indispensable for the survival of the more than seven billion humans on the planet,” Horn reminds us. It has been with us since antiquity and is ever more important now in the age of sprawling cities, cars, and computer chips. Yet mining is an industry that demands a disproportionate toll from both the environment and from those who toil in its trenches. The technology that relies on minerals may be cutting-edge, but the injuries still suffered by miners all over the world are like horrors out of some distant dark age. Horn gets into the gritty details of mining at every level, from the small-scale subsistence mines of Teofilo Otoni, Brazil, to the boardrooms of transnational corporations in which individuals become rich off the plundered wealth of nations. After a comprehensive description of the state of contemporary mining, Horn makes an argument for economic changes that will more thoroughly regulate this unduly powerful and capricious industry, creating conditions that are more sustainable and ethical for the planet, for mineral-wealthy nations, for consumers, and for the laborers who risk their safety to bring necessary materials out from the unforgiving ground. Horn is a fine writer; he has a precise eye for detail and a wide, contextualizing narrative style. Despite the sometimes-dry subject matter, he keeps the reader emotionally invested in the importance of the topic, sometimes provoking unexpected laughs and other times stirring genuine heartache. His command of history and his knowledge of the shocking practices used in mining today support a persuasive argument for sweeping changes. The book not only convinces readers of the tremendous importance minerals have in our world, but compels them to change an exploitative system.
A damning account of the mining industry and a rousing call for its reform.