Mining is a risky business. Demining, i.e., removing landmines, is even more risky. In both endeavors, people get hurt and people get killed. The alternative in the case of mining is to deprive them of materials that feed them, keep them warm, and enable them to speed around in SUVs. The alternative in the case of demining is to let them step on the mine and loose a leg or life.

Franco & Cesar Oboni, a father and son team, have just published a paperback with the title “Improving Sustainability through Reasonable Risk and Crisis Management”. At is so often the case, the book has nothing to do with sustainability or crisis management, but quite a lot to do with risk management at mines and demining, and the risks associated therewith.

The book’s subtitle is even more intriguing: “A guide to making better decisions, steer your projects across an ocean of uncertainties, make winning moves.”

Thus fortified, we approach the book’s contents with some trepidation. But first a quick look at the back cover where the rationale for the book is explained thus:

“An impenetrable aura of complex mathematics, myth and impervious literature may be the root cause of many professional’s misleading impression that risk assessment (RA), quantitative risk management (QRA) and the resulting risk-based decision making (RBDM) are to be used and constitute the exclusive domain of high-stake decision-makers hiding in boardrooms with their analysts, a sort of modern version of Merlin advising King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table.”

If you want to avoid being treated like King Arthur by your consultants, and instead want to sally forth as Lancelot in independent shining armor, this is the book for you.

There is thankfully very little math in the book, except for one or two of those equations giving risk as a product of probability and something else. For the rest there are many nice pictures and text on case histories the two authors have dealt with.

If your mine involves a rock slope or a tailings dam, you might be interested to see how they address the risks that the rocks will fall, the slope fail, or somebody die. There are lots of checklists of those sort of categories, components, materials, options and so on that brainstorming sessions love to generate. At least the lists in this book will save you some time by helping you avoid another brainstorming session on the topic.

If you are a humanitarian, you may want to read the chapter on demining. Like the greater part of the book, it is easy reading and yet strangely informative. Enjoy.