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these veins are not wrought for want of hands. Gold is collected in great abundance in the alluvious grounds of Santa Rosa, the Valle de los Orsos, and the Valle de la Trinidad. The number of negro slaves who collect the gold (negros mazamoreros) amounted in 1770 to 1462 ; and in 1778 to 4896 individuals. The gold of Antioquia of which the town of Mompox may be considered as the principal market, is only of the fineness of from 19 to 20 carats. At Barbacoas, is is generally 214 carats.
In Choco, the northern stream works, and those of the district of Zitara, supply a finer gold than the more southern district of Novita. The gold of the mines of Indipurdu is the only gold which rises to 22 carats; for the mean richness of the gold of Choco is from 20 to 21 carats. The produce of the different stream works, is so constant in its mixture, that is is enough for those who carry on the trade in gold dust to know the place where the metal was procured to know its fineness. The finest gold of New Grenada, and perhaps of all America, is that of Giron, which it is affirmed rises to 23 carats and I of a grain. At Marmato to the west of the river Cauca, and to the south of the rivers of the old Villa de Armas, a whitish gold is procured which does not exceed 12 or 13 carats and
which is mixed with silver. It is the true electrum of the antients. However, although both at Choco and Barbacoas platina generally accompanies gold, they have never yet seen there the aurum platiniferum, which perhaps has never existed but in our systems of Oryctognosy.
At Choco, the richest river in gold is the Rio Andageda; which, with the rivers of Quito and Zitasa, forms near the village of Quibdo the great Rio Atrato. All the ground between the Andageda, the Rio de San Juan, which passes near the village of Noanama, the Rio Tamana, and the Rio San Augustin, is auriferous. The largest piece of gold ever found in Choco weighed 25 pounds. The negro who discovered it, fifteen years ago, did not even obtain his liberty. His master presented the pepita to the cabinet of the king, in the hopes that the court in recompense, would grant him a Castilian title, an object most ardently desired by the creole Spaniards ; but he hardly succeeded in obtaining payment of the value of his gold according to weight. It is said that a piece of gold was found in Peru near la Paz in 1730, of the weight of 45 pounds.
Under the viceroyship of the Archbishop Gongora, an enumeration was made of the
negroes employed in procuring gold at Choco* ; and they amounted in 1778 only to 3054. In the valley of Cauca there are 8000. The province of Choco might alone produce more than twenty thousand marcs of gold from washing, if in peopling this region, which is one of the most fertile of the New Continent, the government would turn its attention to the progress of agriculture. The richest country in gold is that in which scarcity is continually felt. Inhabited by unfortunate African slaves, or Indians who groan under the despotism of the Corregidors of Zitara, Novita, or Taddo, the province of Choco remains what it was three centuries ago, a thick forest, without trace of cultivation, without pasturage, and without roads. The price of commodities is so exorbitant there, that a barrel of flour of the United States sells from 64 to 90 piastres ; the maintenance of a muleteer costs a piastre, or a piastre and a half per day; and the price of a quintal of iron amounts in time of peace to 40 piastres. This dearth ought not to be attributed to the accumulation of the representative signs, which is
very inconsiderable ; but to the enormous difficulty of carriage, and to that miserable state of
* Relacion del estado del nuevo reyno
que hace el Arzobispo- Obispo de Cordova a su successor Ex. Fray Don Francisco Gil y Lemos. 1789, (M S.)
things in which the whole population consumes without producing.
The kingdom of New Grenada of silver extremely rich in the Vega de Supia*, to the north of Quebraloma, between the Cerro Tacon, and the Cerro de Marmato. These mines which supply both gold and silver, were only discovered within these ten years. The operations were interrupted, in consequence of a law-suit between the proprietors, at the very time when the ores were found in the greatest quantity. The working of the old silver mines, of Pamplona, and Saint Anne, near Mariquita, was resumed with zeal, at the period when the Court of Madrid appointed Don Juan Jose D'Elhuyar, director of the mines of the viceroyalty of Santa Fe. The repository of argentiferous ores of Saint Anne, forms a bed in gneiss. I visited the mine of Manta, the produce of which contains on an average six ounces to the quintal. M. D’Elhuyar the brother of the director of the mines of Mexico, had established an amalgamation work with four barrels like that of Freiberg: The works were conducted with great intel
* Minà de los Morenos or Chachafruta. From Carthago to la Vega de Supia, it is in a straight line only 20 leagues.
ligence; but as the quantity of silver between 1791 and 1797 only amounted to 8700 marcs, while the expenses
amounted to 216,000 piastres, the viceroy ordered the mine to be abandoned. It is to be hoped that in better times, the government will again endeavour to resume these works, as well as the works of Santo Christo de las Laxas, and the Real de Bocaneme, between the Rio Guali and the Rio Guarino, which formerly furnished considerable quantities of silver.
Resuming the results we have obtained, we find that the total produce of the gold and silver mines of the Spanish Colonies, amounts to the sum of 40,600 marcs in goldt, and 3,206,000 marcs of silver, Castille weight. These data differ very little from those communicated by me to M. Heron de Villefosse, which he published in his interesting work on the mineral wealth of the principal powers of Europe. The following table was drawn up from the valuable information which I obtained more recently from Spain, and the kingdom of New Grenada.
* Expenses of subterraneous works, expenses of amalgamation, and construction of amalgamation works.
+ 25,026 lb. troy. Trans.