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

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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 discovered of the toil of its miners. Potosí symbolized marvelous wealth and incredible agony. New international bullion prompted the formation of the 1st global economic system yet whilst it had profound effects for hard work, as mine operators and refiners resorted to severe kinds of coercion to safe staff. In
many situations 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 continues to be of ways a lot financial improvement mining controlled to supply in Latin the United States and what have been its social and ecological results. Brown's specialise in the mythical mines at Potosí and comparability of its operations to these of different mines in Latin the US is a well-written and available learn that's the first to span the colonial period to the present.
Part of the Diálogos sequence of Latin American reports

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Medina’s process could refine lower-grade ores and required far less fuel than smelting. It involved mixing salt and mercury with crushed ore. Depending on the type of silver compound (oxides or sulfates, for example), the refiner then added a reagent (magistral), such as crushed copper or iron pyrites. The magistral started a chemical reaction in which the salt released the silver from the ore to form an amalgam with the mercury. Through flotation, the workers then washed away the dross, leaving the heavy amalgam, which they heated to volatilize or evaporate the mercury.

Furthermore, because they lay near the surface, extraction costs were relatively low: mine owners did not have to dig expensive tunnels to reach them. The negrillos, on the other hand, were more complicated, although not impossible, to refine, and because they usually lay below the water table, drainage problems made their extraction costly. The Lure of Gold, the Wealth of Silver 11 Some Mexican and Andean districts also refined small quantities of gold found in the silver ore. The Spanish worked alluvial gold deposits in the Caribbean, Mexico, the Andes, and especially New Granada.

Neither did Potosí continue to dominate New World silver production. Its portion of total silver output subsided as mining expanded in other parts of Spanish America, particularly in Mexico. By 1700, Potosí registered only 15 percent of American silver production, and that slipped to 10 percent by 1801–1810, reflecting both Potosí’s decadence and higher levels of output elsewhere. Colonial silver mining in Mexico first centered around the capital, especially to the southwest at Zumpango, Amatepec, Sultepec, and Taxco.

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