Atacama virtual: English

History of mining - Atacama Region, Chile


Mining 1830 - 1920
W. Griem, 2017
Trabajando en una mina - Simonin, 1867

 Introduction to mining history 1830 - 1920

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Mining was the key to technical, social and scientific development in many parts of the world. On the other hand, mining was a not harmless and quite sacrificing profession. The mechanization of the mines, the increasing level of knowledge and the change to porphyric, i. e. large-scale deposits, forced the mining industry to adapt its working methods time and again.  Here, the period from 1830 to 1920 is to be evaluated more precisely.

Between 1830 and 1920, technical progress in mining was already clearly visible, and mining methods differed markedly from earlier times. For technical reasons, the metal concentrations were still remarkably high (silver was from 1% to 3%, copper was initially from 20% to 25% later at 3 to 8%). This resulted in a rapid deepening of the mines. In some shafts in the Harz and also in other districts, the miner was able to reach the mine in a relatively short time with the help of a "Men Engine". The technical progress made it possible to increase production while deepening the shafts considerably. In general, the mining industry was already geared towards mass production and efficiency during this period. Rich ore bodies were exploited throughout in vein-shaped (here) or sedimentary deposits, (here). Only the provision of low-cost energy was not guaranteed or very difficult. Water, steam engine or horsepower were the most important sources of energy.    The time span is generally known-indicated by:  

a) Technical development (here)  
b) Scientific knowledge (here)  
c) New Social Awareness (here)  
d) Redefining professional formation (here)  
e) Safety concepts in the mines (here)  
f) First globalization (here)

The historical development in the Atacama region reflects all these changes very nicely. This region, located at the "end of the world" at that time, was increasingly approaching the centers of the industrial revolution. Globalization finally reached the last part of the Atacama Desert.    This epoch came to an end around 1920, and there were profound changes: electrical energy was now available worldwide, commodity prices fell, and deposits showed significantly lower metal concentrations and much larger extents. Now the porphyry deposit type (here) was preferred.


Minería subterranea en La Vie  Souterraine
Mining exploration: From: "La Vie Souterraine Du Les Mines et les Mineures" (Paris 1867) - Foto grande

Mining Atacama
History of Atacama


History of mining 1830-1920
Intro epoch 1830-1920
Technical innovations
Scientific innovations
Social conscience
Educational impulse
Mine safety
Records of the period::
Gilliss: Apires and barreteros
Work conditions of miners
Los Mineros (Tornero 1872)
Apires y barreteros - Tornero

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General Geology:
History of Geosciences

Historical sketches mining
Chapter "History of Geology"
Historia de las geociencias
Mining history of Atacama
Mining from 1830 to 1920
List of minig districts of Atacama

Mining in Atacama
Tres Puntas
Carrizal Alto
Cerro Blanco
Lomas Bayas
Cabeza de Vaca

Visitors and scientists
List of visitors
R.A. Philippi in Atacama
Paul Treutler in Atacama
Charles Darwin, Atacama (1835)
Ignacio Domeyko y Copiapó
Kunz en Copiapó
Hugo Kunz en Chañarcillo
Gilliss Mineros en Chañarcillo

Additional information
Timeline Atacama
Mining history of Atacama
The railroad history of Atacama
Cartas y Mapas de Atacama
Cartas históricas de Atacama
Listado de personajes de Atacama

The railroad history of Atacama
History of Atacama
Mining history of Atacama
Geología Atacama
Climate of the Atacama Region
Virtual viewpoint Atacama

Map: Historic Mining centers of the world
Carta de los centros históricos globales



Literature and links: List of bibliography:  Here

● Mina en Sankt Andreasberg (Harz / Alemania) y la "Fahrkunst"
en alemán:
● The Fahrkunst: explicación en inglés: (de Thomas Krassmann):

● SIMONIN, L. (1869): Underground life, Mines y Miners. - 522 páginas, Translated by H.W. Bristol; London; Chapman & Hall; 1869. (Collection W. Griem) - véase página con más enlaces

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Mining history of Atacama, Chile
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Updated: 1.10.2017, 15.7.2018
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© Wolfgang Griem (2005, 2009) - Todos los derechos reservados - alle Rechte vorbehalten - all rights reserved
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