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 marvelous wealth and incredible pain. New international bullion inspired the formation of the 1st international economic system yet even as it had profound results for hard work, as mine operators and refiners resorted to severe varieties 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 continues to be of the way a lot financial improvement mining controlled to provide in Latin the USA and what have been its social and ecological effects. Brown's specialise in the mythical mines at Potosí and comparability of its operations to these of different mines in Latin the United States 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 experiences

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Extra info for A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present

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It mattered little to them, of course, whether the silver had been taxed or not, although they did worry about the fineness of piñas as compared with official stamped ingots. Clandestine trade with the Portuguese in Brazil also offered untaxed silver another outlet. It is hard to determine the extent of such illegal silver refining. Let us assume, however, that Peter Bakewell’s estimate of 12 percent contraband is correct for 1635. That would mean that azogueros were producing about 150 marks of silver for each hundred pounds of mercury they purchased, even though the official correspondencia was only 130 or so marks.

Mexican silver production rose rapidly from the establishment of the mining camps through the depletion of the surface ores and during the decades following the introduction of the patio process (for total Spanish American output, see graph 2). This followed the pattern seen at Potosí. Despite some setbacks during the seventeenth century, however, Mexican output did not experience a prolonged decline, as was true of Andean mining, especially at Potosí. Exploitation of Fresnillo and Sombrerete, for example, compensated to some extent for Zacateca’s setback between 1635 and 1660.

Because gold was worth ten to sixteen times more than silver, miners were more likely to mine it secretly and smuggle it to avoid paying taxes than was the case with silver. Thus, calculating production according to tax records and other data is even less reliable for gold than for silver. ” They never found the legendary king who ritually powdered his body with gold dust before bathing in a mountain lake. Nonetheless, this region proved the richest in gold of all Spanish America. ”30 Spaniards eventually exploited deposits in the Chocó region along the Pacific coast; the Cauca drainage system, especially around Popayán and Antioquia; and the Magdalena valley.

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