Italian coal miners’ strikes

Italian coal miners’ strikes

Sep 11th, 2012

coal miners' strikes Had I realized what a life in mining would be like, I’d have head for the hills, rather than become entrenched in it.
I was rather surprised to find the mural painting above. It came together with text translated above in italics. It was  on the front wall of a house in Orgosolo, in the mountain of Sardinia, one of the main islands of Italy.

A few days after I took the picture, workers at the last Italian active coal mine started a strike. They entrenched themselves in the underground with 700kg of explosives.

The last Italian coal miners on strike

The reason?

The state owned operation will close because Italian produced coal is four times more expensive than Chinese coal (despite the transportation costs!). You will easily understand that if you have never heard about Italy as a mining country it is because the few mines that existed there were ’boutique’ sized. And certainly uncompetitive with any size able modern operation.

Once the mine will close, one town will be turned to poverty and finally become a ‘ghost’. Then every one will run away seeking a job and a decent living.

A two century old know-how and tradition will disappear. Poverty will generate criminality, animosity.

And there will be other indirect effects like stress induced diseases. All these events have a very high probability of occurrence if the decision to shut down is made. We have not performed any calculation. However, given the small tonnage produced we believe that the consequences and the probability would generate risks that greatly overcome the ‘economic advantage’ brought by closing.

Decision makers should remember that closing a mine is not like turning off an appliance. There will be long term environmental liabilities and required stewardship, which also bear a price tag.

It is time that politicians learn about risk management. Risk management that matters to people, not the one they perform to ensure their re-election.

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Category: Consequences, Crisis management, Risk management

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