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PRE-ORDER

CRUELLEST EARTH

BOOK ...

Pre-Order a signed copy
of my Cruellest Earth book
for this one-time special
price of A$90.

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CRUELLEST EARTH
E-BOOKLET

This stunning free e-booklet
draws attention to a group
of 40 million people doing
some of the most extreme
jobs on the planet.

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CONNECT
WITH HUGH

Now in this fnal quartile of the book
I am searching for major funding
partners to help get me to the
fnish line. If you think you can help
or might know someone that can,
I would love to hear from you.

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DONATE

All donations to the Cruellest Earth
project go toward funding my
costs of completing the project.
I have invested everything he
owns into this project.
I am committed to taking the story
of the miners to the world.

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What is the
Cruellest Earth project?

In 2010 I committed to documenting the work and lives of the artisanal and small-scale miners (“ASM”) around the world. There are an estimated 40 million of these people and they mine for many of the raw materials that go in our jewellery and electronic devices such as laptops, smart phones and electric vehicles...

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About Hugh Brown

My photographic life began after I left my law studies and a management consulting career to move to Western Australia’s Kimberley region back in 1998. Photography was not something I’d thought of as a career to that point and the camera came along on my early adventures because I was seeing such incredibly beautiful and remote places…

Join Private Facebook Group

I am excited to announce a new Facebook Group for those interested in following my Cruellest Earth project. I will be sharing some of my best stuff over the next few weeks so if you are looking to see incredible and mostly unseen places in our world without taking the risks of going there yourself then: My goal here is to inspire and share knowledge. To get people thinking more deeply about a group of some of the poorest people in the world who most of us know nothing about.

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Who is Hugh Brown?

EARLY YEARS

My photographic life began after I left my law studies and a strategy consulting career to move to Western Australia’s Kimberley region in 1998. Photography was not something I’d thought of as a career to then and the camera came along on my early adventures because I was seeing incredibly beautiful and remote places.

CAREER

In 2003, while sitting alone in a remote gorge in Australia’s Kimberley region, I worked out how to finance and produce my frst book: The Kimberley: Australia’s Wild Outback Wilderness. This released later that year and sold out in less than 18 months. A further six books followed and my seven books have sold over 50,000 copies worldwide.

I am motivated by making a difference. Making important photographs, not merely beautiful photographs. And in this I have made it my life’s work to document aspects of our world that are rapidly changing. People, countries and cultures. Towns. Occupations. Industries and landscapes. Hence my focus on the miners.

I’ve been fortunate to work in over 30 countries around the world through South, Central and North Asia, Africa, South America and my native Australia. Some of my favourite countries have been Russia, Pakistan, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Plus home of course.

I’ve also worked in some of the most extreme conditions on the planet. Minus 58 degrees celcius in Russia and plus 50 degrees celcius here at home. Some of the highest mountains in the world including the Andes and Pakistan’s Karakorum Range. And then the barren deserts, savannah and the remote jungles of Central Africa

My current major project is the Cruellest Earth: The Quest for a Better Life, which focuses on the world’s 40 million artisanal miners. But I’ve also been fortunate to hold major solo exhibitions in South Africa and in some of China’s most prestigious public and private art museums. Outside of the Cruellest Earth project I am working on two other books which are almost complete.

In my consulting career I came to realise there are multiple solutions to every problem. It is this mindset I carry with me everywhere in life. When problem solving on the road. And when conceiving and executing difficult photoshoots and projects. It’s incredibly powerful because suddenly no such thing is impossible. Every problem is solvable. You’ve just got to fnd it.

What is the
Cruellest Earth Project?

The Cruellest Earth - The Quest for a Better Life is my 10 year plus quest to photograph the lives of the 40 million men, women and children mining with their bare hands in some of the most remote, spectacular and difficult places on earth.

These people are known as Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (“ASM”) and this project will result in a major coffee table book, a feature documentary flm and a series of exhibitions that will tour the world.

It is my hope that this project will drive greater awareness of the world’s artisanal miners while simultaneously leading to a greater understanding of the complexity and many nuances that relate to the subject.

I aim to do this by focusing on some of the world’s most spectacular examples of ASM and then by infusing these images with interviews with the miners, plates that neutrally pick apart the complexity of key issues (eg, environment, child labour, confict minerals, responsible sourcing, challenges faced by large companies, etc.) and then giving some historical background to each of the 10 primary locations featured.

The output will be a spectacular 360 page large format coffee table book using my world-class book designer and one of the world’s leading artbook printers.

WHY THE FOCUS ON ARTISANAL MINING?

If one was to ask most in the developed world what they know of ASM, the answer would be zero. They would not even know what artisanal miners are. Although they might get a sense for them if you described 19th Century gold rushes through much of the developed world. Miners working with picks and shovels and their bare hands.

ASM incorporates some of the most difficult aspects of humanity. Extreme poverty. Dangerous working conditions. Brutal physical labour. Humtraffcking, slavery and child labour. Confict minerals. Environmental degradation. Extremism....

But it also employs over 40 million people directly and as many as 240 million people indirectly. It accounts for 20 percent of global gold production, 80 percent of the world sapphire supply, 25 percent of tantalum production and 25 percent of tin production. All indispensable in our jewellery, laptops and smart phones. It is recognised by key global development organisations as having the potential to be a major development driver in some of the world’s poorest countries.

In recent years, the emergence of conscientious consumerism and major legislative change has put the spotlight on where the world’s largest companies source their raw materials. As a result, many of these companies have scurried to validate their supply chains so they can’t be associated with any of the less salient aspects of artisanal mining.

ASM is an incredibly complex topic. Nuanced and diverse. We have to be careful, through the billions of dollars of monies pouring into the sector, that we don’t merely cut these people off by re-directing our raw materials sourcing back to developed world suppliers. And in so doing cause more damage than good to the lives of some of the poorest people on the planet.

ASM is not all good. And it’s not all bad. The challenge for us all is to be able to pull out the best bits of ASM, while sanitising the bad. Working with the miners rather than abandoning them when things get too hard. As challenging as issues may get, we owe it to the miners to punch through those issues and eventually fnd solutions.

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Media Coverage of
Cruellest Earth

Click on each of the Logo’s to backlink to the original article ...
APRIL 14, 2020

These photos show some of the most extreme working conditions in the world, from inside an active volcano to deadly mines that have killed 8 million people

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APRIL 14, 2020

Thrill-seeking: Why it’s good to get out of your comfort zone

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APRIL 14, 2020

Photos: Artisanal mining is one of the few ways Africans directly beneft from natural resources

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APRIL 14, 2020

The Times – Job from Hell

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APRIL 14, 2020

A really hard day’s work: Stark images show people around the world toiling in deadly conditions from mines to volcanoes for as little as $1 a day

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APRIL 14, 2020

These are the toughest jobs on Earth

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APRIL 14, 2020

Interview on ABC 774 Melbourne

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APRIL 14, 2020

Interview on ABC 720 Perth

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APRIL 14, 2020

Photographer from God: Extreme in Life

APRIL 14, 2020

Mining at the Ends of the Earth

APRIL 14, 2020

Digging In: The Perth Based Photographer on a Mission

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APRIL 14, 2020

The Cruellest Earth: a snapshot of some of the world’s deadliest mines

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APRIL 14, 2020

Life and Death in the World’s Most Dangerous Mines

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APRIL 14, 2020

Volcanic Assignment for Photographer Hugh Brown

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Books

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Books

Producing meaningful and high-quality coffee table books has been a huge part of my life. These are the ones I’ve self-published. But I’ve also been the major contributor on numerous others. I’m interested now in using technology to envision the new books of the future.

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RIBBON OF STEEL:
50 YEARS OF PILBARA RAIL

This was a project I helped conceive. It was commissioned by Rio Tinto to celebrate 50 years of their Pilbara rail network and to mark the end of an era with the introduction of driverless trains.

The book was photographed and written over two and a half years. It features interviews and photographs with Rio Tinto’s longest serving Rail employees, including some that had served almost 50 years with the company

Year Printed: 2016
Print Run: 2500

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ATLAS: OUR LIFE IN PICTURES

Listed in 2004 Atlas grew from a company of four people (when I frst began photographing them) to become one of Australia’s largest iron ore producers and an ASX100 company with a market capitalisation of US$3B. A great group of people from the MD down. I’m proud to still be associated with them.

The book includes interviews with a diversity of Atlas’ employees.

Year Printed: 2012
Print Run: 2300

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AUSDRILL:
A CELEBRATION OF 25 YEARS

Another commissioned
project. This time to celebrate
25 years of Ausdrill.

An ASX-Listed 200 company that grew from a Kalgoorlie garage to take in 18 different business units and 5000 employees across three continents.

A more genuine group of people would be hard to come across and I feel fortunate to have built the friendships that I have.

It features interviews with some of the company’s longest serving employees.

Year Printed: 2012
Print Run: 11,000

Producing meaningful and high-quality coffee table books has been a huge part of my life. These are the ones I’ve self-published. But I’ve also been the major contributor on numerous others. I’m interested now in using technology to envision the new books of the future.

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Books

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THE PILBARA: AUSTRALIA’S
ANCIENT HEARTBEAT

Shot over an intense two and a half year period between late 2004 and 2007 this was the most extensive photographic study of the Pilbara region ever undertaken. A region 500,000+ square kilometres in size and in many ways my second home.

It features stunning large format natural landscapes with a mix of the people and industries that have captured me since I frst visited the region in 1998.

Year Printed: 2007 (Reprinted 2011 and 2015)
Print Run: 11000

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THE KIMBERLEY: TIERRA DE MI ALMA:
LAND OF MY SOUL

Australia’s Kimberley region captured my soul when I frst travelled there in early 1998.

I ended up leaving my consulting career in Melbourne to relocate there and so began my life of adventure.

This large format hard cover coffee table book features text and photographs of the landscapes and people that have become a huge part of my life across all of the Kimberley’s seasons.

Year Printed: 2006
Print Run: 9500

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THE PILBARA:
OUTBACK AUSTRALIA’S
KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOUR

Australia’s Pilbara is one of the oldest and most sparsely populated regions on the planet.

Featuring photos of sweeping landscapes and text of the Pilbara’s history, geography and natural history this coffee table book gives a comprehensive insight into one of Australia’s least known but most important regions.

Year Printed: 2005
Print Run: 6000

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THE KIMBERLEY:
AUSTRALIA’S WILD OUTBACK
WILDERNESS

This was my frst book. A soft-cover coffee table book, it features spectacular photographs from across the entire Kimberley region and was aimed at covering many of the popular spots that visitors travel to when they come to the Kimberley region.

Year Printed: 2003
Print Run: 6000

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Speaking

I speak on a variety of topics, mainly related to mining around the world. I’m able to present both keynotes and workshops for audiences of all sizes.

I would love to meet with you to learn more about your conference or organization and how we can best work together to accomplish your goals.

Please let me know what you’re working on by flling out this quick form or contacting me directly.

The Quest for a Better Life – We are All Miners at Heart

Like the people back home – the office workers, cleaners, labourers and the thousands of FIFO workers – these miners, working in the most difficult conditions imaginable, are all forgoing the lives they could be living to make better lives for self and family. We are all sacrificing the now for the possibility of a better future. We are all miners at heart.

Meet the 40 Million Miners Who Make Our Jewellery and Smart Phones

I have spent much of the past 15 years photographing the world’s artisanal mining community. A group of 40 million people taking in some of the most complex issues known to man. Human traffcking. Slavery. Environmental degradation. Extremism. Child labour and conflict minerals. Difficult labour practices. But is not all bad and in this keynote I take my audience on a journey to understand some of the more complex nuances that are not widely talked about in the mainstream media.

Blow Torch of the Miners

Ex Navy Seal David Goggins advocates that most of us amble through life operating at around 40 percent of our given capacity. In this keynote, I feature photos of miners working in the most extreme working conditions on earth while operating under extreme load. I aim to demonstrate that if these people are able to operate at levels most would think impossible then surely we are all capable of an immense amount more: particularly given the many support structures and comforts we all have in place

TESTIMONIALS

“We couldn’t have been more delighted with Hugh’s contribution to the NewGen Gold conference dinner. He produced a speech that was at times humorous, heart-warming and inspiring and the feedback we have from guests was resoundingly positive. This is no mean feat, given he was speaking on a subject our guests had intimate professional knowledge on.”
Dominic Piper, Australia’s Paydirt.

“We had the pleasure of having Hugh present for us at one of our major product launches last year. Hugh is a confdent easy speaker who is able to share his knowledge in both an interesting and informative way. His no nonsense approach is engaging and relaxed, and he instantly makes his audience feel included in the journey.”
Sheryl Mauger, Canon Australia.

“Hugh Brown. Focused. Driven. Unique. Incredible photographer. Interesting speaker. Unmeasurable story teller.”
Diane Bartlett, Health professional.

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Contact Me

Now in this fnal quartile of the book I am searching for funding partners to help me get to the fnish line. If you think you can help or know someone that can, I would love to hear from you.

JOIN THE ADVENTURE
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