By Kendall W. Brown
For twenty-five years, Kendall Brown studied Potosí, Spanish America's maximum silver manufacturer and maybe the world's most renowned mining district. He examine the flood of silver that flowed from its Cerro Rico and discovered of the toil of its miners. Potosí symbolized brilliant wealth and incredible anguish. New international bullion encouraged the formation of the 1st global economic system yet whilst it had profound effects for exertions, as mine operators and refiners resorted to severe different types 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 financial 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 different mines in Latin the US 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
Read 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
With mercury and mita labor in short supply and rising production costs cutting into the refiners’ profits, two factions arose among the azogueros: the Basques, who controlled most of the refining mills; and the vicuñas, the non-Basque 26 Chapter 2 Spaniards and Creoles. Between 1622 and 1624 the two factions engaged in a murderous feud that killed sixty-four and wounded many others. On the surface the strife was ethnic, but more critical was its economic dimension. With fewer profits to go around, the vicuñas wanted for themselves more control of Potosí’s silver output.
The Indian subcontinent produced no precious metals, and its coinage was minted from bullion imported through trade. The collapse of Mongol power and extreme inflation in China brought an end to the use of paper money, which had circulated from the ninth to fourteenth centuries. ”33 Silver circulated both as coins and as ingots, with Chinese traders and merchants carrying scissors and scales to cut and weigh it. All this made New World gold and especially silver alluring to the Span iards. The bullion plundered by the conquistadors was just a foretaste of the New World’s possibilities.
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.
A History of Mining in Latin America : From the Colonial Era to the Present by Kendall W. Brown