A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era by Kendall W. Brown

By Kendall W. Brown

For twenty-five years, Kendall Brown studied Potosí, Spanish America's maximum silver manufacturer and maybe the world's most famed mining district. He examine the flood of silver that flowed from its Cerro Rico and realized of the toil of its miners. Potosí symbolized tremendous wealth and unimaginable soreness. New international bullion encouraged the formation of the 1st international economic climate yet while it had profound results for exertions, as mine operators and refiners resorted to severe types of coercion to safe staff. In
many circumstances the surroundings additionally suffered devastating harm.
All of this happened within the identify of wealth for person marketers, businesses, and the ruling states. but the query is still of ways a lot fiscal improvement mining controlled to provide in Latin the USA and what have been its social and ecological outcomes. Brown's specialize in the mythical mines at Potosí and comparability of its operations to these of alternative mines in Latin the US is a well-written and obtainable learn that's the first to span the colonial period to the present.
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Ruins of a colonial refining mill at Potosí. The water wheel was held in place by the upright masonry walls. The city of Potosí is located in the valley to the right. any that appeared unprofitable. Indians transported the remainder to the ingenio on llamas, storing it in the deposit. Eventually, workers at the stamp mill pulverized the ore and sifted it through a screen. Then they shoveled it into a cajón (flagstone box), and the refiner added salt and crushed magistral. From a rough cloth bag he squeezed and sprinkled drops of mercury onto the ore, and workers mixed it in.

Compressing and hammering the amalgam removed some mercury. Workers then placed the lump of amalgam in a retort (a vessel fitted with a lid that had a long downward-sloping neck) and heated the amalgam to volatilize the mercury. The mercuric gases flowed out of the retort through the neck, where they cooled and condensed. Capturing and reusing the mercury was crucial, because mercury was an expensive element in the refining process. Azogueros called the porous spongelike silver that was left in the retort a piña (pineapple).

Another version of the story has him searching the hillside for a llama that had strayed. While on the Cerro, a violent gust of wind threw him to the ground, and he found himself holding on to an outcropping of silver ore. According to a different account, he camped on the Cerro, built a fire to warm himself, and in the morning discovered his fire had smelted silver. Thereafter, Gualpa apparently tried to report his find to the Spaniards in Porco, but they paid him little attention. Another version of the story holds that Gualpa hid his find and secretly worked the lode.

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