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 incredible wealth and unimaginable discomfort. New global bullion prompted the formation of the 1st international economic climate yet whilst it had profound outcomes for hard work, as mine operators and refiners resorted to severe sorts 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 is still of the way a lot monetary improvement mining controlled to provide in Latin the USA and what have been its social and ecological effects. Brown's specialize in the mythical mines at Potosí and comparability of its operations to these of alternative 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 stories
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Additional info for A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present
Washing the mixture with a flotation system, workers removed the amalgam from the dross. Next, they had to separate the mercury and silver. 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.
As officials became aware of the problem, they assumed that inattention, incompetence, or technical problems had led mint operators to produce coins of substandard quality. Despite royal warnings, the Potosí mint continued to stamp coins that contained less than the required amount of silver. The Council of the Indies, which oversaw colonial affairs for the king, had to proceed cautiously. On the one hand, it could not jeopardize confidence in Spanish coinage by allowing the adulteration to continue.
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.
A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present by Kendall W. Brown