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The abundance of waters which filtrate through the crevices of the rock and the gangue, vary very much in the different points of the vein. The mines of Animas and Valenciana are entirely dry, though the works of the latter occupy a horizontal extent of 1500, and a perpendicular depth of 500 metres*. Between these two mines, in which the miner is incommoded by the dust and extreme heat,t lie the mines of Cata and Tepeyac, which remain under inundation, because they do not possess sufficient mechanical force to draw off the water. At Rayas, it is drawn off in a very expensive manner by means of baritels a mulets, placed in the interior of the traverses, and raising the water, not by pumps, but by the action of chapelets de caissons of a very imperfect construction. One is astonished to see mines of such considerable wealth without any levelt, while the neighbouring ravins of Cata and Marfil, and
in very thin rods. The interlacing of these rods, (parillas) is so regular that they constantly form equilateral triangles.
* 4920 and 1640 feet. Trans.
+ From 22° to 270 centigrade, (71° and 80°. Fahr. Trans.); the temperature of the exterior air being 17° (62° Fahr.)
[ In the district of the mines of Freiberg, which however do not yield annually the seventh part of the money extracted from the single mine of Valenciana, they have
executed two levels, of which the one is 63,213 metres, and the other 57,310 metres in length (207,390 and 188,023 feet. Trans.)
the plains of Tenascatio, which are lower than the bottom of Valenciana, appear to invite the miners to undertake works which would both serve to draw off the water, and to transport the minerals to the place where they are smelted and amalgamated.
Valenciana is almost the sole example of a mine, which for forty years has never yielded less to its proprietors than from two to three million of francs * of annual profit. It appears that the part of the vein extending from
Tepeyac to the North-West, had not been much wrought towards the end of the 16th century. From that period the whole country remained a desert, till 1760, when a Spaniard who went over very young to America, began to work this vein in one of the points which had till that time been believed destitute of metals (emborascado). M. Obregon † (the name of this Spaniard), was without fortune ; but as he had the reputation of being a worthy man, he found friends who from time to time ad. vanced him small sums to carry on his oper rations. In 1766, the works were already 89 metres in depth $, and yet the expences greatly surpassed the value of the metallick
* From £82,506 to 8123,759 per annum. Trans. + See Vol. i. p. 226.
262 feet. Trans..,
produce. With a passion for mining equal to what some display for gaming, M. Obregon preferred submitting to every sort of privation to the abandoning his undertaking. In the year 1767 he entered into partnership with a petty merchant of Rayas, of the name of Otero. Could he then hope that in the space of a few years, he and his friend, would become the richest individuals in Mexico, perhaps in the whole world? In 1768 they began to extract a very considerable quantity of silver minerals from the mine of Valenciana. In proportion as the pit grew deeper, they approached that region which we have already described as the depository of the great metallick wealth of Guanaxuato. In 1771 they drew from the pertinencia de Dolores enormous masses of sulfuretted silver, mixed with native and red silver. From that period till 1804, when I quitted New Spain, the mine of Valenciana, has continually yielded an annual produce of more than 14 millions of livres tournois *. There have been years so productive, that the net profit of the two proprietors of the mine, has amounted to the sum of six millions of francs f.
M. Obregon better known by the name of
* * 583,380 sterling. Trans.
Count de la Valenciana, preserved in the midst of immense wealth, the same simplicity of manners, and the same frankness of character, for which he was distinguished previous to his success, When he began to work the vein of Guanaxuato, above the Ravin of San Xavier, goats were feeding on the very hill which ten years afterwards was covered with a town of seven or eight thousand inhabitants. Since the death of the old Count, and his friend Don Pedro Luciano Otero, the property of the mine has been divided among several families *. I knew at Guanaxuato two younger sons of M. Otero, each of whom possessed in ready money, a capital of six millions and a halft, without including the actual revenue from the mine which amounted to more than 400,000 francs [. .
The constancy and equality of the produce of the mine of Valenciana, is so much the more surprising,' as the abundance of the rich mines has considerably diminished, and the expences of working have increased
* The property of Valenciana is divided into twenty-eight shares, called barres, of which ten belong to the descendants of the Count de la Valenciana, twelve to the family of Otero, and two to that of Santana.
+ €271,835 Sterling. Trans. .'
in an alarming proportion, when the works have reached a perpendicular depth of 500 metres*. The piercing and walling of the three old draught-pits cost the count de Valenciana nearly six millions of francs, viz.
• Piastres The square pit of San Antonio or tiro viejo, 227 metres of perpendicular depth, and four baritels a chevaux 396,000
The square pit of Santo Christo de Burgos 150 metres in depth and two baritels a chevaux
95,000 The hexagonal pit of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (tiro nuevo) 345 metres in perpendicular depth and six baritels a chevaux
700,000 Expence of the three pits.
Within these twelve years they have begun to dig in the solid rock, in the roof of the vein a new draught-pit (tiro general) which will have the enormous perpendicular depth of 514 metres †, terminating at the actual
* 1640 feet. Trans.
J reduce the varas mexicanas on the principle that a vara is equal to Om 839 or a toisė = 2. 332 varas mexicanas