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To form an idea of the enormous advances required in working the mine of Valenciana, it is sufficient here to mention, that in its present state, there must be laid out annually,
In wages of miners, triers, masons, and other workmen employed in the mine.
In powder, tallow, wood, leather, 1,100,000 steel, and other materials necessary in mining.
Total expence 4,500,000+ The consumption of powder alone has amounted to 400,000 livres annuallyf; and that of the steel destined to the making of pointroles and fleurets to 150,000 livres,f The number of workmen who labour in the interior of the mine of Walenciana amounts to 1800. Adding 1800 individuals (men, women, and children) who labour at the baritels a chevaux, in the carriage of minerals to the places where they are tried, we shall find three thousand one hundred individuals are employed in the different operations of the mine. The direction of the mine is entrusted to an administrator with a salary of 60,000$ francs. This administrator, who is
* e187,515 Sterling. Trans. " + £16,668 Sterling. Trans. £ 66250 Sterling. Trans. § 62500 Sterling. Trans.
under the controul of no one, has under his orders an overseer (obersteiger, minero) the under overseers (untersteiger, sottomineros) and and nine master miners (mandones). These head people daily visit the subterraneous operations, carried by men” who have a sort of a saddle fastened on their backs, and who go by the name of little horses (cavallitos). We shall conclude this account of the mine of Valenciana, with a comparative table of the state of this Mexican work, and of that of the celebrated mine of Himmelsfürsti, in the district of Freiberg. I flatter myself that this table will fix the attention of those who consider the study of the management of mines as an important object in political economy.
* For the extraordinary manner of travelling on men's backs, see my Wues des Cordilleres. Pl. v.
+ Whatever relates to this mine (in the following table) which I have frequently had occasion to visit in in 1791, is taken from the work of M. Daubuisson, t. iii. p. 6–45.
Comparative table of the mines of America and Europe.
America. Europe. Mine of Valenciana; Mine of Himmelsfürst, Average year at the the richest of the the richest of the
end of the eighteenth Mexican Mines. Saxon Mines.
century. At the surface, 2320 At the surface, 410 metres above the level metres above the level of the sea. of the sea. Metallick pro-l 360000 marcs of 10000 marcs of silduce silver Wor
Total ex pencesofl 5000000 livres 240000 livres Tourthe mine - - Tournois nois Net profit of the
share holders 3,000,000 livres 90000 livres
The quintalofmi- F - rom 6 to 7 o: 4 ounces ounces silver
3100 Indians and Y 700 miners, of whom Mestizoes 1800of 550 are in the whom are in the interior of the interior of o:) mine
mine Wages of the *} From 4 to 6; 18 sous
Number of work-
ners livres Tournois 400000 livres 27000 livres TourExpence of powder }. (near nois (nearly 270 ly 1600 quintals, quintals) Quantity of minerals smelted 720,000 quintals 14000 quintals and amalgamated A vein frequent§ divides into JFive principal in branches ( veins, from two of from 40 to sto three decime
Weins 50 metres of V tres of extent (in extent (in clay J gneiss) slate) of. er minute. Two Water No water ydraulical wheels
Depth of the mine 514 metres 330 metres
• They reckoned in 1803 in the whole district of mines of Guanaxuato, five thousand miners and workmen employed in trying the minerals, in smelting, and amalgamating; Eighteen hundred and ninety-six arastras, or machines for reducing the minerals into powder, and fourteen thousand six hundred and eighteen mules destined to move the baritels, and to tread in the place of amalgamation, the flour of the minerals mixed with mercury. The arastras of the town of Guanaxuato bray, when there is an abundance of mercury, eleven thousand three hundred and seventy quintals of minerals per day. If we recollect that the produce in silver is annually from 5 to 600,000 marcs, we shall find, by this datum, that the mean contents of the minerals are extremely small. The celebrated mines of Zacatecas, which Robertson*, from what motive I know not, calls Sacotecas are, as we have already observed older than the mines of Guanaxuato. They began to be worked immediately after the veins of Tasco, Zultepeque, Tlapujahua and Pachuca. They are situated on the central table land of the Cordilleras, which lowers rapidly towards New Biscay, and towards the basin of the Rio del Norte. The
* History of America. Vol. ii. p. 389.
climate of Zacatecas, as well as that of Catorce is much colder than the climate of Guanaxuato and Mexico. Barometrical measurements will one day determine whether this difference is owing to a more northern position, or to the elevation of the mountains.
The nature of the former has been examined by two very intelligent mineralogists, M. M. Sonneschmidti and Valencia, the one a Saxon, and the other a Mexican. From the whole of their observations it appears, that the district of mines of Zacatecas bears great resemblance in its geological constitution, to that of Guanaxuato. The oldest rocks which appear at the surface are syenitic; and clay slate reposes on them, which from the beds of Lydian stone, graunakke, and greenstone which it contains, has a resemblance to transition clay slate. The most part of the veins of Zacatecas are found in this clay slate. The veta grande, or principal vein, has the same direction as the veta madre of Guanaxuato; the others are generally in a direction from east to west.f A porphyry destitute of metals, and forming those naked
* Beschreibung der Bergwerks-refere von Mexico, p. 166 –237. Descripcion geognostica del real de Zacatecas, por Don Vicente Valencia...(M.S.)
† Sobre la formacion de las vetas, por Don Andres del Rios. (Gazeta de Mexico.) T. xi, n.51.