Archive | Mining Documentaries

Beneath the Surface: a look at early mining in Rankin Inlet – by Sarah Rogers (Nunatsiaq News – October 14, 2016)

Frank Tester’s new documentary premieres at the Inuit Studies Conference

It was the mid-1950s. Elizabeth Alareak had only just married her husband Edward Alareak when he was “summoned” to come and work at the Rankin Inlet nickel mine, among the first mines to operate in the Canadian Arctic, from 1957 to 1962.

“We didn’t understand what a mine was,” she recalled, laughing. “We simply agreed.” The Arviat elder, whose husband has now passed away, is one of the many voices featured in a new film documenting life at the mine and its impact on the region, called Beneath the Surface: Inuit miners at Rankin Inlet 1957-1962.

The film premiered Oct. 9 at the Inuit Studies Conference in St. John’s, Nfld. In the 1950s, the fox pelt market upon which so many Inuit relied for material goods had dropped so low that those who had made their living trapping could no longer survive that way. Continue Reading →

Op-Docs: My Beautiful, Deadly City – by Victoria Fiore (New York Times – August 9, 2016)

Not many people have heard of Norilsk, an industrial cityin an isolated part of Arctic Russia. No roads or trains lead there; internet is severely limited; and it is it closed to foreigners.

Getting there, I would find out, is very difficult. Yet despite its obscurity, Norilsk has one of the largest mining and metallurgical complexes in the world and produces most of the earth’s palladium, an essential mineral in electronics and automobiles. Most of us probably have a bit of Norilsk in our pockets, bags or homes.

Having this connection to such an alien place intrigued me; Norilsk was the most important city I’d never heard of. Continue Reading →

The New Gold Rush: How the Yukon became Canada’s most reality-TVed jurisdiction – by Tristin Hopper (National Post – July 11, 2016)

Two years ago, the National Post wrote about how the Yukon is the last place in Canada still handing out homesteads. In the months since, an incredible four separate production companies asked for contacts to shoot a “Yukon Homesteaders” reality T.V. pilot.

The Yukon might be the country’s most lightly populated jurisdiction, but it’s apparently filled with Canada’s most watchable people. As of this writing, there is one “Yukon” series for every 5,000 Yukoners, and many more movie-length documentaries and special episodes set in the territory. The result is arguably the world’s highest regional per-capita density of documentary camera crews.

In a place renowned for its misfits and recluses, this hasn’t always been the most welcome development. But there is apparently no noun or activity that can’t be made into a hit T.V. show without adding the words “Yukon” or “Klondike.” Continue Reading →

‘Fireflies In The Abyss’ Is A Sobering Look At The Lives Of Meghalaya Coal Miners – by Suprateek Chatterjee (HuffPost India – July 7, 2016)

Filmmaker Chandrashekhar Reddy recalls the first time he stepped inside a coal mining pit. It was in mid-2012, near Lad Rymbai, Meghalaya. It was pitch-black, of course, and he could feel the oxygen levels falling as he descended down a slippery wooden ladder, terrified that he might fall off.

When he got to the bottom, he realised he lacked the flexibility to actually navigate the tunnels, the so-called ‘rat holes’, which are barely big enough for a fully grown adult to crawl through. “I had to be put in a cart and wheeled around in turns by some of the other men working there,” he said, in a conversation with HuffPost India.
“Despite the lack of oxygen, I saw some of them smoking in there, which, from my knowledge, is quite dangerous, as every mining activity results in the release of methane, which is flammable.” Continue Reading →

Documentary: The Bomb (2015)

The Bomb is a 2015 American documentary film about the history of nuclear weapons, from theoretical scientific considerations at the very beginning, to their first use on August 6, 1945,[1][2] to their global political implications in the present-day.

[3][4][5][6][7] The two-hour PBS film was written and directed by Rushmore DeNooyer, who noted the project took a year and a half to complete, since much of the film footage and images was only recently declassified by the United States Department of Defense.[5]

According to DeNooyer, “It wouldn’t take very many bombs to really change life on Earth, … The idea that there are thousands of them sitting around is pretty scary. I don’t think people today realize that. They don’t think about it. I don’t think they are scared. Continue Reading →

Documentary: Uranium – Twisting The Dragon’s Tail (2015)


The story of uranium is part science, part history and all epic adventure. It’s a journey through place and time, around the most dangerous and wondrous rock on Earth.

Born violently in the collapse of a star long ago, uranium is woven throughout the fabric of Earth. It has properties like no other rock: the element spits energy which can transform DNA, shaping the very nature of what it means to be human. Once considered worthless, this rock has become the most desirable, most expensive and most feared substance in the world. And on a warming planet with limited fossil fuel, uranium may transform once again—into our savior.

Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail is an action-packed journey to explore this dangerous, wondrous and controversial rock. Join physicist Dr. Derek Muller, creator of YouTube channel Veritasium, as he travels to Russia, Japan, North America, Europe and Australia to explore the vast world of this fascinating element. Continue Reading →

Documentary: KONELĪNE: our land beautiful (British Columbia’s Golden Triangle)

Celebrated for using art to seek beauty and complexity where you least expect to find them, KONELĪNE(pronounced Ko-na-lee-na) is garnering rave reviews for its fair-minded and sensual exploration of northwest British Columbia and the extraordinary people who move across it. Miners call this land the Golden Triangle, hunters call it the Serengeti of the North, and the Tahltan First Nation call it home.

KONELĪNE’s visual poetry delights in exploding stereotypes. Heidi Gutfrucht, at once a big game hunter and fierce environmentalist, swims her 17 horses across the massive Stikine River; a Tahltan First Nation diamond driller bores deep into the same territory he loves….and that his elders are fighting to protect; white hunters carry bows and arrows while Tahltan elders shoot moose with high-powered rifles; and the world’s biggest chopper flies 16,000-pound transmission towers over mountaintops, their metal struts catching the light like giant gleaming crosses. Continue Reading →

Film review: KONELĪNE finds drama in BC’s Golden Triangle – by David Perri (Northern Miner – June 1, 2016)

KONELINE: Our Land Beautiful (Trailer) from Mark Lazeski on Vimeo.

Northwest British Columbia is a land of abundance and beauty. Teeming with wildlife, the mountains, rivers and valleys are also home to the Tahltan First Nation. Riches below the surface have inspired miners to call the region the “Golden Triangle.”

This landscape is the focus for Nettie Wild’s documentary KONELĪNE: Our land beautiful. The film-maker points a lens at the people who live and pass through this remarkable land, capturing the intersection of natural beauty, development and a native homeland. Continue Reading →

The Mine Wars: West Virginia’s Coal Miners March on Public Television – by Mark Hand ( – January 20, 2016)

In the 1980s, writer Denise Giardina’s “Storming Heaven” offered a wide-ranging portrait of southern West Virginia’s coal camps, while film director John Sayles’ “Matewan” focused on one of the defining moments in the long-running battle between the state’s coal industry and its workers. One was a novel and the other one was a low-budget movie drama. And yet both storytellers filled a hole in research that professional historians had neglected to cover for more than half a century.

Miners and their family members, who had kept quiet for decades, gradually found the courage to speak out. Since the release of Storming Heaven and Matewan, numerous other books, films and articles have been produced about this important period in the nation’s industrial and labor history. Continue Reading →

[Coal mining] Introduction: The Mine Wars ( – The American Experience)

In the first two decades of the 20th century, coal miners and coal companies in West Virginia clashed in a series of brutal conflicts over labor conditions and unionization. Known collectively as the “Mine Wars,” the struggle included strikes, assassinations, marches, and the largest civil insurrection in the United States since the Civil War.

Coal was the engine of American industrial progress at the beginning of the 20th century. It powered locomotives, factories, and home furnaces, and it helped to purify the steel used in erecting skyscrapers all over the U.S.

Nearly three quarters of a million men across the country spent 10 to 12 hours a day in coal mines blasting, hand-picking, shoveling, and loading the indispensable rock onto railway cars bound for destinations across the country. Continue Reading →

West Virginia Miners Play Second Fiddle to the Molly Maguires – by Mark Hand (Counter – September 29, 2015)

In search of improved working conditions and livable wages, mine workers in two major coal producing states resorted to violence against coal mine owners and managers. The militants in one of those states are celebrated as heroic fighters of America’s industrial age. In the other state, the miners’ campaign for human progress is omitted from state history books.

In Pennsylvania, the state contributed funds to build a monument to honor the Molly Maguires, a secretive Irish organization that allegedly killed coal company officials as retribution for their treatment of miners. In museums and gift shops in the state’s anthracite coal region, visitors can purchase t-shirts and other memorabilia honoring the Mollies, 20 of whom were hanged after they were found guilty of murder and other serious charges in the late 1870s.

A big-budget Hollywood movie, titled The Molly Maguires, was released in 1970 with a radical coal miner, played by Scottish actor Sean Connery, as the hero and a Pinkerton detective, played by Irish actor Richard Harris, as the anti-hero. Continue Reading →

AUDIO: [De Beers and Attawapiskat] After the Last River screens at Bay Street Film Festival in Thunder Bay (CBC News Thunder Bay – September 10, 2015)

Movie highlights relationship between First Nation and mining company in northern Ontario

The Bay Street Film Festival kicks off Thursday through Sunday in Thunder Bay. One highly-anticipated film screens Thursday evening after receiving a great deal of attention during production.

After the Last River tells the story of the Attawapiskat First Nation’s experience with the nearby De Beers diamond mining company in northern Ontario.

The small community near James Bay garnered international attention for its’ social issues through the grassroots Idle No More campaign.

Vicki Lean, the film’s director, said there’s not enough discussion about how mining companies and small communities can impact each other. Continue Reading →

‘Overburden’: Powerful New Film Doc Captures Big Coal’s Enduring Trauma — And Two Women’s Work to Heal Its Damage – by Jeff Biggers (Huffington Post – September 8, 2015)

While recent headlines hastily declare the death of King Coal, a powerful new film documentary based on seven years of investigation poignantly captures the complexities and largely overlooked stories of the enduring trauma of the coal industry on miners, their families, affected neighbors and the ravaged communities and Appalachian mountains they call home.

As one of the most timely, poetic and informed film documentaries released this year, Overburden: Two Women and the Mountain Between Them, chronicles a quintessential American journey–amid the tragedy of lawlessness in the workplace and the environment–of two courageous women, formerly divided, who shed their fears and find common ground to begin the painful process of dealing with their grief, seeking terms of justice, and healing their damaged communities and mountains.

“We’ve all become family,” Betty, a once fervent pro-coal supporter tells Lorelei, a coal miner’s widow and vocal mountaintop removal mining organizer, in the film. “Don Blankenship has put us together,” she adds, referring to the notorious former Massey Energy CEO. Continue Reading →

The Blood Red Rubies of Burma (DOCUMENTARY) – June 2015

The Mogok Valley in Upper Myanmar (Burma) was for centuries the world’s main source for rubies. That region has produced some of the finest rubies ever mined, but in recent years very few good rubies have been found there. The very best color in Myanmar rubies is sometimes described as “pigeon’s blood.”

In central Myanmar, the area of Mong Hsu began producing rubies during the 1990s and rapidly became the world’s main ruby mining area. The most recently found ruby deposit in Myanmar is in Namya (Namyazeik) located in the northern state of Kachin.

Ruby Country – as the Burmese call their country, which is famous for the jewels as red as blood. In the old days the rubies were in maharajas ownership. They were sold to the Europeans. Today, trade with the red rubies is fully at the hands of the military government field in the. They are currently the new owners of the mines. The golden triangle is the largest and most dangerous ruby country in the world. Continue Reading →

Afghanistan’s Secret Billion Dollar Emerald Mines (Journeyman Pictures – March 31, 2015)

Hidden Gems: Afghanistan is not only a country in perpetual turmoil, but also a geological miracle. Can they now harness 1,000 billion Euros worth of natural resources in order to lift the nation out of poverty?

“We have a lot of requests from Europe because the Emeralds from Afghanistan are the best in the world”, Raphael says. He’s a Frenchman who first came to Afghanistan to train Afghan security services before venturing into the emerald trade.

He sees a huge chance here to exploit a market that could easily increase in value twenty or thirty-fold, but the obstacles are not inconsiderable. Just to get to the mines Raphael has to travel the 150 Kilometres from Kabul to Panjshir, right through Taliban kidnap country. Continue Reading →