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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 realized of the toil of its miners. Potosí symbolized awesome wealth and incredible ache. New global bullion motivated the formation of the 1st global economic system yet even as it had profound outcomes for exertions, as mine operators and refiners resorted to severe sorts of coercion to safe staff. In
many instances 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 supply in Latin the US and what have been its social and ecological results. 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 available research 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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Additional resources for A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present

Sample text

Another shortage occurred when Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808 and the French seized Almadén. The Bank of San Carlos did not run out of mercury completely, but supplies were very short. 16 Meanwhile, the fight for independence began, with patriot and royalist armies ravaging the region. The Bank of San Carlos no longer had funds to make credit available to refiners, only a handful of mills continued to grind ore, and mercury, when available, was much more expensive. In 1820 Potosí registered only twenty-seven thousand kilograms of silver, and its mining industry was nearly moribund.

After 1580, Potosí’s refiners virtually abandoned smelting. Peruvian viceroy Francisco de Toledo (1569–1581) clearly understood Potosí’s importance to royal finances and the Peruvian economy. He also 20 Chapter 2 recognized that Huancavelica, the only major American source of mercury during colonial times, was critical to the prosperity of Potosí. 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.

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. 9 This would have meant, however, that ore quality had not declined during the intervening years, and this was unlikely.

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