Mines of Silver and Gold in the Americas

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Peter John Bakewell
Variorum, 1997 - Technology & Engineering - 396 pages
This volume focuses on Latin America, since it was mainly there that Europeans (or their colonial descendants) actually engaged in mining in the 16th-19th centuries; elsewhere they traded metals mined by others. The principal metals produced, and in prodigious quantities, were silver, in the Spanish colonies, and gold, mainly in Brazil in the 18th century. These articles analyse the volume and pattern of production and the forms of labour found in mining. Particular attention is given to the technologies of extraction and refining, notably the adoption of the mercury amalgamation process: this had a major impact, driving down silver production costs; because the mercury mines were a royal monopoly, it also handed control to the Spanish crown.

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