Title ID 1441Collection ID275
Title[Phosphate Mining in America and the Pacific]
CollectionH A Voss
ThemeWorking Life
KeywordsBeaches Harbours Industry Labour Piers Ships Travel Workers
LocalAmerica. Florida.
RegionalFlorida [Nauru ?] [Banaba?] [Christmas Island?]
NationalUnited States North and Central America Oceania
ProductionH A Voss
CameraH A Voss
FormatMixed Colour and Black & White Silent
Duration38 min. 32 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This film, in three parts, depicts phosphate mining and processing in Florida and the Pacific.


In the first part of this film, scenes at a phosphate mine show cranes clearing topsoil from a pit, which is then sprayed with water jets to form a slurry, before the process of separating the phosphate from the slurry. A panorama of the pit building reveals a tall wooden construction, and the surrounding plant and machinery. The chemical processing plant is visible across a lake, where a wooden shack stands at the end of a cross-river pipe, alongside other industrial buildings. A view across the lake shows the industrial nature of the landscape in the distance. More footage of a mine follows, with the 'dragline' crane towering above. This time people can be seen working in the pits which are being sprayed with jets of water. The next shot is of a pair of wagons on tracks leading out of a pit building, filled with the mined rock. A man perches on top of one of the wagons. Several powerful jets of water spray through a grill to filter the phosphate rock. A conveyor belt is filmed which leads to more filtering and sifting machinery inside the plant buildings. A chute of water sprays from the top of a tower, and nearby a conveyor belt winds down a tall wooden construction, by a large metal drum. A view across the river is followed by a shot of the processing plant. Piles of rock can be seen in the grounds, before a shot of the view down an empty road lined by trees and telegraph poles, and surrounded by fields. A man is distantly seen walking down an empty road and a car refills at a petrol station advertising "Standard Oil Products". An oil drill stands next to another empty road. The placards on the drill reveal that it is 'South Lake Well', in Groveland, Florida. A man rides on the drill as it rises. This is followed by more footage of a pit circled by a track for barrows, raised on stilts. A crane digs in the ponds of water in the pit and loads the barrows, which move up toward a building at the top of the tracks.

The second part of the film opens with a view from a boat. An island can be seen in the distance. Two Europeans in white suits are taken to shore on a row boat by locals. Views of the island, where palm trees line a rocky coastline, are followed by a shot of a man in a white suit. Families playing in front of straw huts. Local children pose for the camera, before shots of European couple standing on a tree-lined path. Old crane machinery is then seen at work in a mine, clearing land. Miners walk down into the pit, before manually carrying boulders and baskets of pebbles out, and dig the rock with picks. The surrounding landscape is barren and rocky, as a small steam train passes, dragging a line of empty skips behind it. In more mine scenes, rock is cleared and transported, manually and by crane, before being taken away by the steam train. Pit workers are seen shovelling piles of rock into wheelbarrows, and pushing large skips manually along the track. A skip is prepared to be removed by the steam train. Shots of the modern buildings on the island are followed by footage of the processing plant, where large rotating drums sift the mined rock.

In the final third of this film, straw huts can be seen near beaches lined with palm trees. A European woman enters one, before a shot of a view over a lake. Some local children and families are portrayed, between more footage of the local landscape. Mine scenes follow, with shots of a crane at the pit. A ship arrives at a pier to collect its cargo. The emptied goods wagons run back up the tracks from the pier after dropping off the load. The pier is filmed from a distance. Modern houses are seen as a European woman drives up in a motor car. The steam train is then filmed returning to the pier. A European couple play golf, and local girls cycle past, before the film ends on a view over the sea.