Matthew Hart’s new book takes the reader into such exotic, dangerous domains as the furnace-like subterranean world of the deepest mine on Earth; the corruption and piracy of the mighty Chinese gold-mining industry; and the distant bamboo forests of eastern Senegal, where village miners still burrow through the goldfields that sustained the beautiful and secretive gold empires of the Sahara Desert. With unmatched access to crucial figures in the industry, and the experience of thirty years’ reporting on some of the greatest mineral rushes ever, Matthew has painted a riveting picture of an enchanting industry.
Matthew lives in New York City.
In Gold: the Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal, he describes the fantastic world gold rush that followed the banking cataclysm of the twenty-first century. When Lehman Brothers bank collapsed in 2008, it sent waves of panic through financial markets. Asset prices crumbled, and fear drove a tide of new investors into the safe haven of gold bullion. In three years the gold price shot from $800 an ounce to almost $1900, and thousands of explorers went out to scour the world for new deposits. On a February night in 2010, on assignment from Vanity Fair, Matthew set out from London, where he was then living, and flew to Uganda. From there he went by private plane to an exploration camp in a valley in northeastern Congo, entering, in that journey, an even stranger foreign land – the gold world. He found crime, danger, and the keen excitement of great discoveries. The biggest gold rush in history was underway, sweeping through the western Sahara, the hills of Inner Mongolia, and the lost empire of a mediaeval monarch. The story now told in Gold is really the story of the human race – mad, joyful, desperate, and always captivating.
Matthew was already an experienced newspaper and magazine reporter when he wrote Golden Giant, the story of a 1980 gold rush and staking battle on the north shore of Lake Superior. Ten years later he was hooked by another mining rush, this time diamonds. His award-winning Diamond: the History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair, recounted the 1990 discovery and staking rush that uncovered the world’s third richest diamond field under the frozen lakes of the Arctic’s forbidding Barren Lands. Diamond was developed into a four-hour miniseries that aired on ABC in 2009, starring Judy Davis, James Purefoy, and Sir Derek Jacobi.
Matthew’s feature writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The Times of London, the Toronto Globe and Mail, and The Financial Post. He was a contributing editor of the New York trade magazine Rapaport Diamond Report and has appeared on 60 Minutes, CNN, and the National Geographic Channel. He has written two IMAX films, numerous TV documentaries, and feature-length magazine and newspaper pieces on topics as diverse as Argentine polo, Princess Di, and the theft of the most valuable private art collection in the world from a palace in Ireland. He sailed on a winter voyage to the Greenland Sea for a story on the circulation of the Atlantic. Then news started to appear that caught his eye. It was news he could not resist, and as it grew louder and more sustained, he dropped everything else: another gold rush was getting under way.