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 affliction. New global bullion inspired the formation of the 1st global economic climate yet even as it had profound results for hard work, as mine operators and refiners resorted to severe varieties of coercion to safe employees. 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 provide 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 different mines in Latin the US is a well-written and available examine that's the first to span the colonial period to the present.
Part of the Diálogos sequence of Latin American reports
Read Online or Download A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present PDF
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Extra resources for A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present
Gresham’s law also held sway: namely, that bad money drives out good. This meant that when silver increased in value compared with gold, the silver tended to be drawn out of the economy. Once the silver strikes began in Mexico and Peru in the 1540s, silver dropped in value relative to gold. 28 Europe had experienced a modest silver boom in the thirteenth century with the discovery and exploitation of important mines in Saxony and Bohemia. The Lure of Gold, the Wealth of Silver 13 In the early 1300s a mark of gold was worth about thirteen marks of silver.
Refiners also employed mercury imported from the Crown’s mines at Almadén in Spain or quicksilver distilled from small Mexican deposits of cinnabar, such as at Cuernavaca. As amalgamation spread at Potosí, demand for Huancavelica mercury surged. 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.
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. But on the other hand, if it removed and arrested everyone suspected of the crime, it might upset Potosí’s delicate credit market. Potosí’s mine operators and azogueros depended on working capital they obtained from several of the silver merchants who were accused of involvement in the mint scandal.