Gold Town – 12 July 2021 – 12/7/2021 – Monday – BBC Two
Series 1 Episode 1 of 3
Buried deep in the spectacular landscape of Scotland’s Highlands, there is gold. This three-part series follows the fortunes of a band of miners, many of whom are new to the job, as they attempt to extract it. If the mining company can make it work, this will be Scotland’s very first commercial gold mine. Filmed in the Scottish Highlands over a year and a half, the series follows the constant challenges at the mine and the life in the local community, a busy hub that up until now has relied mainly on tourism.
Eighty-three-year-old farmer John Burton and his wife Deirdre have known about the gold on their land for almost 40 years. A quartz vein, hidden inside Beinn Chuirn, contains gold estimated to be worth £200 million. However, several companies have already tried and failed to extract it, and establishing a new mine is not easy.
It’s August 2019, and John’s son Davy is one of the mine supervisors leading a team of local lads new to mining. Training here means the miners could get jobs abroad that pay almost three times the average for the area. However, working 12-hour shifts underground can be challenging; it is noisy, dusty and damp, with a potential for unexpected rock fall and hazardous fumes.
Five miles down the road, the local village of Tyndrum is buzzing with visitors. Fiona from busy service station The Green Welly Stop has lost a couple of workers to the mine. Sarah at The Real Food Cafe was against the mine initially but is now keen to ensure it brings genuine benefit to the community. A shortage of housing is a huge problem here, but mine employees increasing the demand may encourage companies to build.
The mining company won’t make a penny until the first molten gold is poured, and that date keeps slipping. Already £24 million in the red, CEO Richard Gray has had to ask investors for more money. He calls on all managers to redouble their efforts to keep the funders on side and produce gold by February 2020 – still six months away.
To extract the tiny gold particles from the ore vein, the company need to build a giant processing plant just below the entrance to the mine. But as farmer John’s land lies within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, planning consent comes with strict stipulations. The start of the build is delayed by months, and when they finally get going, they immediately hit a problem – much more peat than they have been given permission to unearth, and work can’t properly move on until they find somewhere to store it.
Australian project manager Jason is now faced with building a giant processing plant on an exposed Scottish hillside in the depths of winter, with any further delay potentially leading the whole mining project to run out of money.
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About Gold Town
Documentary following the fortunes of a band of gold miners.
This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.
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