It’s a new year, and as the mining industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and the world reflects on the last two years, New Year’s resolutions 2022 may be the last thing on people’s minds. However, if there’s one thing you should resolve to do, it’s to read some of the books we’ve picked out for you here.

Here we’ve listed, in no particular order, non-fiction books written over the years related to mines and mining by writers from around the world that will intrigue, move, and inform. From enthralling true stories to books on mine management, commodities, and mining in Africa, this is our pick of titles to add to your 2022 reading list.

7 Mining-related books you should read in 2022

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Héctor Tobar

Published in 2014

This account of the 2010 Chilean mine accident and the saga of 33 trapped men is perhaps the most popular of the various books written about the survival story that gripped the world. It was penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Héctor Tobar, who the miners chose to give the rights to a book about their 69-day ordeal. Deep Down Dark pulls together each one of the mineworkers’ stories about their experience to create a highly readable work.

It is an emotional, engrossing work of non-fiction that isn’t, at its core, truly about mining, but more about the human condition and surviving the odds together. However, the incident occurred at a mine, which gives us enough of an excuse to include this epic true story in our mining book list.

Woman@Work! – My Journey into ‘Macho’ World by Rumisha Motilal

Published in 2021

Rumisha Motilal, a South African who ranked in WIM UK’s Top 100 Women Globally in Mining in 2020, wrote this book as a ‘female career reference toolkit’ for women working in male-dominated industries. In it, she gives women guidance on building a career, tips for personal development, and advice on business strategies, management, and leadership.

It is sure to be a handy guide and good read for women who work in mining, particularly any woman looking to further her career and hoping to advance to senior roles. The South African perspective means the book is also more relevant to women working on the African continent.

Mining and the Community in the South African Platinum Belt: A Decade After Marikana edited by Lochner Marais, Maléne Campbell, Stuart Denoon-Stevens, and Dierde van Rooyen

Published in 2021

Published almost 10 years after the devastating Marikana massacre that shook South Africa in 2012 when police killed 24 miners, this book reflects on how things have changed since. Edited by South African professors and lecturers all of whom specialize in various niches of the Development field, the book examines the point at which mining intersects with local communities, mining companies’ social responsibilities, sustainability issues, and more.

The book uses a South African context as its basis, however, what it explores with regards to interrelationships between mines, communities, and cities is applicable to the mining industry worldwide.

Finding Far Away by Lisa Wade

Published in 2009

This memoir about Wade’s year working as an environmental engineer at a gold mine in Peru as a young American woman is notable for its compelling, novel-like writing style. Her story is also likely familiar to many in the mining world. Any miner who’s had to leave home to go work at a remote mine site in another city or country – and that’s a lot – will empathise with Wade’s account of adapting to a foreign place that is starkly different from the US. And any woman who works in the mining sector will relate to her experience of being a woman in a male-dominated mine and a female alone in an unfamiliar place.

Aside from this, the book is also interesting for the inside look of Peru that the reader gets, with Wade documenting aspects like the country’s political discord as well as its natural beauty.

The World in a Grain by Vince Beiser

Published in 2019

This book, a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Literary Science Award, tells the story of sand – the most mined, yet also ‘most overlooked’ commodity on Earth. It is interesting how the book makes us aware of the fact that we take it for granted as well as making us aware of how much we as humans depend on it. For instance, most people don’t consider that much of the man-made world is built from sand, from concrete buildings and roads to silicon chips and even the Hubble telescope.

It is a stark reminder that the thing we rely on more than we even know is infinite. However, it is also a gripping true tale with many rich layers. It’s a story of sand mining’s toll on the environment and humans, of sand pirates who kill for the commodity, of entrepreneurs and innovators from all corners of the globe. You’ll be informed but also highly entertained by The World in a Grain.

African Artisanal Mining from the Inside Out: Access, Norms and Power in Congo’s Gold Sector by Sara Geenen

Published in 2015

Bloodshed, corruption, poverty, and conflict: these are the first things that come to mind when one thinks of artisanal mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, for millions of people, small-scale mining is their livelihood. Geenen explores artisanal mining from a different perspective to most. She looks at how artisanal miners and traders, often portrayed merely as submissive victims of violence and a corrupt system, gain from gold. The book brings to light the certain economic freedoms and possibilities that come with professional artisanal mining, such as flexible employment and economic connectedness in the community. It argues for artisanal mining as a feasible way for a developing economy to reach a post-conflict, modern society, and is refreshing for its different take on the situation.

Digging Deep: A History of Mining in South Africa by Jade Davenport

Published in 2013

This engaging, book delves into the role mining played in the creation of a modernised South Africa. It also explores how mining influenced the country’s economy and political landscape. Davenport details key individuals who shaped and contributed to the 150-year-long ‘mineral revolution.’ She lists productions and costs but does not go into technical mining terms, and the book is accessible for the layman reader. All in all, it is an interesting and clear, easy read about South Africa’s transformation from a slow-moving, remote colony to a land of mineral riches and economic promise, and one of Africa’s wealthiest nations.

Have you read any of these books? Are there any that you’re itching to read this year? Let us know your thoughts, and if there are other books you’ve got on your 2022 reading list!

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