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 brilliant wealth and incredible agony. New global bullion motivated the formation of the 1st global economic system yet even as it had profound effects for exertions, as mine operators and refiners resorted to severe kinds of coercion to safe employees. 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 fiscal improvement mining controlled to supply in Latin the US 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.
Part of the Diálogos sequence of Latin American experiences
Read Online or Download A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present PDF
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Additional info for A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present
Prior to the Spaniards’ arrival, the Incas had required adult males to take turns laboring on public projects. Toledo adapted this custom, called mit’a or “turn” by the Indians, and created the colonial mita, a system of forced Indian labor. He assigned an annual quota of thirteen thousand mitayos (mita workers) to Potosí, drawing them from a wide area stretching nearly to Cuzco, almost six hundred miles away. Adult male Indians in the mita provinces were to work every seventh year at Potosí. 6 At both sites, mitayos received a wage, although it was lower than that paid to the free workers who were employed to supplement the mita contingents.
Toledo aimed to ensure regular, abundant supplies of mercury for the silver refiners while at the same time give the government control over mercury distribution and thus over silver refining. According to Spanish law, subsoil rights belonged to the monarchy, which granted their use to miners upon payment of the appropriate taxes. Toledo insisted that the Huancavelica operators had no absolute right to their claims and expropriated their mines in the Crown’s name. Despite Cabrera’s protests and lawsuits, Toledo prevailed.
An ingenio included storage rooms, living quarters, ore-grinding machinery, and facilities for amalgamation. Waterwheels powered the stamp mills, which raised and dropped heavy iron hammers to crush the ore. In the nearby mountains, refiners built a series of reservoirs to store runoff from rain and melting snow. This enabled them to grind ore year-round, except during infrequent severe droughts. Aqueducts brought the water into the ingenio to turn the wheel, then carried it on to other milling operations farther down the hill.