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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



Class




LIBRARY



THE RIO TINTO MINE



THE

RIO TINTO MINE

ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE



BY

WILLIAM GILES NASH, F.R.C.I.



Excitet invisus magme Eutulls umbras




LONDON
S1MPKIN MARSHALL HAMILTON KENT fc? CO LTD

1904



BUTIER & TANNER,

THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS,

FROME, AND LONDON.



PREFACE

IT is with genuine and deep-seated diffidence that
I have elected to publish the records, existing
at present only in Spain, concerning the famous
Rio Tinto Mine.

As a literary task it should manifestly have been
undertaken by a more competent authority; but
on considering the substantial interest the locality
has had for so long a period for so many of our
countrymen, and, too, that the subject matter is
important enough in itself to entitle it to be estab-
lished on record in this form and its lengthy history
so preserved to us I have determined upon its
publication.

The reader will, I sincerely trust, very generously
overlook all the many defects and errors committed
by me in its compilation, and admit some justifica-
tion for the effort; and, in that manner, condone
my failure to make it such a success as, in my
humble opinion, the matter itself has deserved.



Summary of Contents



CHAPTER I

TOPOGRAPHICAL PRE-HISTORIC WORK AND RECORDS-
EARLIEST DATE B.C. PHOENICIANS ; CARTHAGINIANS
GOTHS AND VANDALS ANCIENT THARTESSUS
ROMAN OCCUPATION OF SPAIN ; OF Rio TINTO
BOETICA OVERRUN BY SARACENS PROSPERITY OF
ART AND AGRICULTURE SPAIN SEVEN CENTURIES
UNDER SARACENS THEIR EXPULSION AND ITS RESULT
DECAY OF MINING, 700 TO 1500.



CHAPTER II

REDISCOVERY OF THE MINES MINING LEGISLATION
EARLY MINING REPORTS EFFORTS OF MENDOZA AND
DELGADO FIRST CONCESSION OR LEASE OF Rio TINTO
PROGRESS IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY WHITE ']
METAL OR " ESCORIA " FROM 1500 TO 1700 . .52



CHAPTER III

FOREIGNER RE -OPENS THE MINES PROPOSALS OF
WOLTERS LEASE OR CONCESSION TO HIM His
PROJECT TO FORM A COMPANY SOME DETAILS OF IT
EARLY " MINING EXPERT'S " REPORT CONCESSION
TO TIQUET FIRST ENGLISH OWNERSHIP OF MINES
LEASE TO LADY MARIA TERESA HERBERT FROM
1700 TO 1780 . ...'* A 76

vii



viii CONTENTS

CHAPTER IV

PAGE

DEATH OF TIQUET His WILL CONCESSION TO SANZ
SMELTING COMMENCED ROMAN FURNACES PROGRESS
OF CEMENTATION OPPOSITION OF ZALAMEA LA REAL
ENERGY OF SANZ OPEN-AIR CALCINATION OF
MINERAL FROM 1740 TO 1780 .... 103

CHAPTER V

FROM 1780 TO 1800 CROWN ASSUMES ADMINISTRATION,
1784 FIRST STATISTICAL RETURNS PRODUCTION OF
CASCARA OR PRECIPITATE ZALAMEA LA REAL
DEMARCATION OF MINE ESTATE ATTEMPT TO
CREATE INDEPENDENT MUNICIPALITY PARALYSIS OF
WORK 138

CHAPTER VI

FROM 1800 TO 1850 INVASION OF SPAIN BY FRENCH
THEIR OCCUPATION OF Rio TINTO MINE CEASES
WORKING ENTIRELY LEASE TO MARQUIS DE
REMISA OPEN-AIR CALCINATION TELERAS Rio
TINTO GRANTED A MUNICIPALITY STATE AGAIN RE-
SUMES CHARGE DEVELOPMENT TO DATE . .163

CHAPTER VII

FROM 1850 TO 1873 LEASE OF CEMENTATION WORKS
OPEN-CUT EXTRACTION PROPOSED ALSO A RAILWAY
TO HUELVA DECISION OF CROWN TO SELL THE MINE
VALUATION ITS CONDITION AT THIS TIME
SALE TO A FOREIGN CORPORATION INITIATORY WORKS
PROGRESS CONCLUSION 186



APPENDIX

DETAILS OF ROMAN COINS .' V . . . '. 217

METALLURGICAL TABLES * . . . '-,..-. v 220

COPPER PRODUCTIONS, 1737 TO TABLES A TO G. . ^ 224

INDEX v V . , ... - /, w * 231



WORKS AND AUTHORITIES QUOTED

Historia de Espana. Lafuente. Vol. i.

Estudios, etc. Rua Figueroa.

Hist. Lit. de Espana. Tomo 8. P. P. Mohedanos. ,

Antiguedades de Espana. Cean Bermudez.

Hist, de Espana. Florian de Ocampo.

Hist, de Espana.. Mariana.

Memorias. Esquerra de Bayo.

Memorias, etc. Gonzalo Tarin.

Antiguedades. Conde de Campomanes.

Revista Miner a.

Anales de Minas.



IX



List of Illustrations

General View of South Lode Open-cut Looking East Frontispiece

Facing Page

Section of South Lode Open-cut ..... 5

Stone Hammer-heads and Drills ..... 20

Bronze rims of Baskets. From the bottom of Shaft at

San Dionisio ........ 37

Interior Workings Modern. South Lode ... 82

South Lode Open-cut, Looking West .... 113

The " Huerta Zumajo." Typical Orchard and Farm . 128

" Los Frailes " 165

Open-air Calcination. " Teleras " . . . . 178

Roman Water- Wheels in situ. ..... 201

Roman Water-Wheel . . . . . . . 201

General View. North Lode, Open-cut .... 207

Stone heads, probably Phoenician ? Ashtaroth . . 208



XI



OFTHE

UNIVERSITY




CHAPTER I

TOPOGRAPHY EARLY RECORDS PRE-HISTORIC WORKING
IBERIC AND PHOENICIAN LABOURS ANCIENT THARSHISH
MINING IN SPAIN BY ROMANS THEIR WORK AT Rio
TINTO OCCUPATION BY GOTHS, VANDALS AND ROMANS
SPAIN SEVEN CENTURIES UNDER SARACENS DECAY OF
MINING

THE very ancient, celebrated, and hitherto
Royal Mine oi Rio Tinto is to be found
situated at about 37 43' north latitude, and 6 $2!
west longitude, in the north-central part of the
Province of Huelva, formerly included in that sec-
tion of Andalucia known to early writers as Boetica
and Turdetania, a district or province which ex-
tended from Malaga (Malaca) and Cadix (Gadis or
Gad'r) on the south-east, to Ayamonte, situated at
the mouth of the Guadiana (Anas).

It is distant in a direct line from Sevilla
(Italica) about 40 miles, from the capital of the
province Huelva (Ounba), about 30 miles, and is
now in direct communication with both these sea-
ports for Sevilla may now be said to be such by
railroad.

Until quite a recent date this mine had for
centuries been more or less subject to the municipal
administration of the neighbouring town of Zalamea



2 THE RIO TINTO MINE

la Real, but is now possessed of independent municipal
authority, and has come under the judicial control
of the town of Valverde del Camino those places
being distant from Rio Tinto five and fourteen miles
respectively. With the town of Zalamea la Real, Rio
Tinto is also How in direct conimunication by rail ;
from whence there extends a " second-class " well
designed and constructed " macadamized " carre-
tera or road, southwards to Valverde and Huelva,
and northwards to the Province of Badajoz tra-
versing the Sierra de Morena, or ancient " Montes
Marianis."

The spur of this mountain range on which the
mine occurs is a somewhat distinct land-mark, and,
excepting to the west, the ground falls rapidly away
to the levels of the rivers Odiel and Rio Tinto or
Jarrama.

It is actually a huge mass of mineral, sub-divided
as shown in the plan into four semi-distinct
bodies or deposits, covered with a comparatively
thin blanket of a ferruginous conglomerate, the crest
of the range being slightly broken or sub-divided
into four peaks variously named " Cerro Salomon/'
" Cerro Colorado/' "Cerro Retamar," and "Cerro
San Dionisio " extending some 3,500 yards in a
west-north-westerly direction, its singular appear-
ance having attracted the deepest attention and
curiosity at all times.

The record of this mine's existence, its explora-
tion and importance in the industrial world, may
well be entitled to rank as " historical " matter. A
merely superficial inspection of it will serve to
show that it is replete with numerous and sub-



ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE 3

stantial evidences of the past, though that evidence
may, to some extent, be said to be fast disappearing
under the influence of rapid modern exploration.

It is said that Byron, in his peregrination from
Badajoz to Se villa, visited Rio Tinto, and made the
singularly trite and happy remark about it :

"The dust we tread upon was once alive."

On all sides exist many signs and ruins of work of
very great antiquity of pre-historic activity and
industry. But it is not to the practical-minded
people of to-day so much a matter of fanciful admi-
ration, although the thirty centuries forming the
record of the Rio Tinto Mine would almost seem to
compel one, on contemplating such a history, to move
at once into the world of romance and fiction, as it
is a scene of absorbing practical interest and concern.

From the summit of the highest of the four peaks
comprising the Mountain of Rio Tinto (it is quite an
isolated formation) the Cerro Colorado, which is
some 530 metres (1,725 feet) above sea-level the
general configuration of the surrounding country
below is seen at a glance, and one is lost in an ocean
of conjecture in contemplating the immense and
innumerable evidences of extraordinary one might
say, herculean labour and toil, as to how and when
the panorama had been created and brought about.

And if the view of the neighbourhood that to
the north, west, and east, particularly, which appears
as though a vast sea of mud had suddenly congealed
does not appear to be very striking or interesting,
the attention of the geologist, the chemist, the miner
even the ordinary traveller must be very much



4 THE RIO TINTO MINE

n attracted by the multitude of hills of "escoriae"

v scattered over a square .league .of ground, some of

immense size, that would seem to have been the

work of a race of Titans, the toil of centuries of time.

An early writer, Rodrigo Caro (1634), nas described

the place as having " a terrorizing aspect, a simple

glance at it causing apprehension and dismay to the

casual and infrequent visitor."

In truth, the solitary, isolated and broken aspect
of the hills constituting the mines the profundity
of its " barrancos," or gullies and valleys, the many
ruinous hollows and sinkings, the almost innumer-
! able shafts of a pre-historic period, the numerous
and immense " hills " of tjjack " escoriae " incon-
testable proof of a gigantic and unknown, or at least
unrecorded, exploration ; the solitude and quite
sepulchral silence of the peculiaiiy_suffocating atmo-
sphere, deserted even by bird-life, the complete
absence of vegetation, and the many ruins visible
at a first glance, scattered broadcast, of Roman, or
earlier, sepulchres and works in and about these
Chills of " escoriae " these details in a startling
scene of desolation and ruin, whilst they excite the
traveller who passes by, with a deep sense of admira-
tion and appreciation of what a vastly different
condition of activity, life, and prosperity must have
at one time prevailed there, must move him also to
conceive, with feelings of dismay, of the misery and
desolate condition of life of those thousands of
wretched beings slaves who had perished in and
about those enormous subterranean and yet super-
ficial labours some succumbing to sickness and
fatigue, others to the harsher pangs of hunger, but



ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE 5

many more sinking under the harder physical
cruelty and associated unhealthy condition of life
imposed by those inhuman captors and oppressors,
who in those early days were placed in charge of
these and other similar "depots'' during, at least,
the period of the sway of imperial Rome.

The condemnation of an offender " to the mines "
was thus the equivalent to a sentence of death as
much as was the alternative " to the galleys."

The people usually employed in working mines in
those days were either criminals or slaves.

The illustration shows how these " slaves " work
to-day.

Pliny (vol. xxxiii. 0.4.) records the existing law or
regulations as to the number of slaves or " sentenced
criminals" who might be employed by any person
owning and working a mine.

These numerous masses of "escoriae" are but the
ruins and indications of infinite underground labour
of foundries of metal ruins of pre-historic time
almost no less gigantic in proportion than those
which, in Europe and elsewhere, have excited the won-
der and admiration of the world for generations.

And if one compares those heaps of " escoriae,"
the result of some twenty-five years' operations by
the present proprietary company, and those " hil-
locks " in existence on the north ^ide or base of the
Cerros Colorado and Salomon, the effects of skilled
labour under modern scientific direction, with those
built up by unwilling slave labour, driven under harsh
military or other despotic control, we must un-
doubtedly be led to believe, with feelings of astonish-
ment, the incontrovertible fact of the great length



6 THE RIO TINTO MINE

of time and of the enormous quantity of labour
required to bring about such very striking results.

It has been found impossible to fix a date or even
indicate with any degree of precision when, or at
what period of history, work was first commenced
at the Rio Tinto mine. Its birth is shrouded in
the mists of antiquity; a record of its discovery,
early youth, development, decay (and re-discovery),
has yet to be written at present it is quite unknown.

The earliest piece of evidence of a reliable nature
about the place only takes one back to the time of
Nerya, about JLOO B.C., however much romance and
tradition may have contributed to the providing of
less authentic information.

From the earliest days of the Christian era many
distinguished writers have accumulated " in the
respectable pages of their writings" diverse and con-
fusing data concerning the history of the mining
industry in Spain in general, and more particularly
as to that referring to Rio Tinto.

The Phoenicians apparently were the first
civilizers to arrive at the coasts of Spain,
sowing gradually throughout the peninsula their
ideas of commerce and industry, of navigation, and
of those domestic arts which were known to them,
by these means bringing about a radical modifica-
tion of the rude habits of the original Iberian in-
habitants, and giving them a degree of civilization,
although of a very imperfect nature.

They have been credited with having arrived at
and formed colonies and settlements on the coast
of Bcetica ancient Huelva somewhere about
the end of the eleventh century B.C., though very



ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE 7

probably this part of Spain had been known to them
for a considerable period previously, as there seems
to be no doubt that they had established a colony on
the opposite shore, in Africa, at Tangier, some cen-
turies before. Procopio, says Lafuente (vol. i. 9-13),
found at that place a Phoenician inscription which
should be taken as reliable evidence. It was to the
effect : " aqui llegamos nosotros, huyendo del ladron
Josue, hi jo de Nave " " here we have arrived flee-
ing from the thief Joshua, son of Nave."

It may safely be assumed that their object in
going there was to open up new sources of trade,
and it has also been alleged that they " already
knew of the existence of mines in this part of the
Iberian Peninsula " (Figueroa).

On the arrival of these descendants of Canaan on
the coast of Iberia, they founded many colonies and
settlements at Malaga, Sevilla, Cordoba, Martos
Adra, and other places in Andalucia some of which
exist to-day, others having disappeared entirely.

These centres were soon frequented by the original
inhabitants when they found that the newcomers
came with peaceful intent, anxious to barter or sell
the many natural products of the country for the
more useful articles of domestic utility, which were
manufactured and thus brought to them from the
markets of industrious Tyre and Sidon.

Of early writers Festus Avienus makes particular
allusion to the trade and commerce of Tartissus
with the " Tin Islands " of the North Atlantic and
the continuing of it by the Carthaginians.

In his Orae Maritimae (lib. 3, Geog :), from verse
no, he goes on to say



8 THE RIO TINTO MINE

Haec inter undas multum cespitis jacet,
Eamque lati Gens Hibernorum colit.
Propincua rurus Insula Albionum patet ;
Tartissiisque in terminus Oestrymnidum,
Negociando mos erat, Cartaginiso
Etiam Colonis, y vulgus inter Herculis
Agitans Columnas haec adibant aequora.

And there is therefore ample room to suppose
that the Erythrians or Carthaginians from their
coast colonies and towns Onuba inter alia dealt
with the Tartessians in copper, tin, and lead, and
silver from the " Montes Marianae/' as had been
done before them by Phoenicians.

Ulloa, in his Cromlogia para la Historia de Espana,
makes the supposition that the Phoenicians arrived
in Spain about 1449 B.C., whilst Florian de Ocampo,
" Cronica general de Espana," mentions 822 B.C. as
the probable date.

Almost all the cities and villages of the Mediter-
ranean and Atlantic littoral were thus originated
by the Phoenicians, and were comprehended under
the collective name of Thartessus or Turdetania.

The many names given to the Iberian Peninsula
are far better known than their origin, and their
etymology is hardly clear or satisfactory.

To take " Iberia ".even supposing it to have
been given or appearing for the first time in the
Periplus of Scilax of Caryanda, about 350 B.C., or
as having been derived from that of the river " Iber "
or " Iberus," or, as pretended by Astarloa, from the
Basque words, ibaya eroa spumos river it would
appear to be more natural to suppose it to have



ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE 9

been so styled as given to the country occupied by
people known in those days as " Iberos."

That of " Spania," given according to common
opinion by the Phoenicians, may be derived on the
authority of Lafuente also from the Phoenician
" span " hidden, meaning a country or locality very
remote or hidden away from access. According to
Figueroa, quoting Varro and Pliny, the present
name Spain is derived from " span] a," in Hebrew
" sapam," and Hoefer was of opinion that the
early titles meant a country " whose peoples worked
in mines." Spania was transformed by the Latins
into Hispania later changed to Espafia ; to-day
the poetic name is still Iberia. Volumes entire
have been written on the subject, the bulk being a
recapitulation of mere conjecture and of indefinite
allusion and speculation.

The great^ centre of Phoenician civilization and
colonization was the westjgyn half of the Medite ; r-
ranean, and the Atlantic coasts to the north and
south of the Straits of Gibraltar.

In especial, the trade with Tarshish, i.e. the
region of the Tartessus (River Guadalquiver), was
what, made the commercial greatness of the Phoeni-
cians, for here they not only had the profitable
fisheries, but above all, rich mines of silver and other
metals, to which the navigable rivers, Guadiana
(Anas) and Guadalquiver (Bcetis) gave easy access.

The untutored natives had little idea of the value
of metals ; for a long time there was no competition,
and so the profits must have been enormous ; it is
said that even the anchors of ships returning from
Hispania were of silver. (Disdoro, v. 35.)



ID THE RIO TINTO MINE

In Spain the Phoenicians encountered a country,
vast and fertile as compared with their own limited
possession in Palestine, rich in precious and valuable
metals of unknown value or utility to its inhabitants,
, and as their primary concern in exploiting a new
country was the discovery and working of mines,
they went as far as the coast of Britain for tin ; they
soon established themselves and extended their re-
searches to the immediate interior, whence such
important results were obtained.

Nor is it at all impossible that wandering and
searching westwards from the Erythrian colony of
Cadix they heard of, or perhaps saw, the dark
coloured and mineralized waters (hence the name
Rio Tinto) of the " Ibero " distant, at its con-
fluence, with the Odiel (Luxia) and the Atlantic,
near Palos, at the foot of the elevation crowned by
the Convent of Rabida, so celebrated in the history
of Columbus, only some 35 miles and explored it to
its source.

The River Tinto (Rio Tinto) was known by the
Romans as the "Urium," as well as " Ibero/' and
later, by the Saracens, as the "Saquia " or "Azequia."

Its coloured and apparently mineralized con-
dition and appearance, from the remotest times,
was the reason undoubtedly for the name it received
whether given by the original inhabitants, Romans,
Saracens, or as from the Middle Ages.

Its chief sources are situated some five leagues to
the north-east of the mine, where it is still styled
the " Jarrama," until it becomes the actual Rio
Tinto, the confluence forming a perennial stream.

The local saying fully explains the matter : (t el-



ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE n

' Rio Tin to ' si lleva la fama y el ' Jarrama ' le da
el agna " : " the c Rio Tinto' takes the credit or fame,
but the ' Jarrama ' supplies the water."

From the sources of the Jarrama to its exit near
Palos the river runs about some 120 kilometres.

Erythrea-Gades-Cadix was founded before Utica,
B.C. iioj:, and Strabo (vol. i. p. 48) dates the settle-
ments beyond the Pillars of Hercules as from soon
after the Trojan War.

Tyrians are also said to have settled at Onuba
(Huelva), at the estuary of the Rivers Odiel and Rio
Tinto, both having a common source, the Rio Tinto

Mine, before they founded Cadix.

> ., . -j

That they themselves worked these mines there
is no positive evidence. They were content, probably,
with the acquisition of the products of Bcetica and
of other parts of Spain, by barter, on probably
highly satisfactory terms to themselves, although
many Phoenician coins have been met with in the
Province of Huelva.

There is every reason to suppose that the original
inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, or at any rate
those occupying the country prior to the arrival
there of the Phoenicians and Vandals, worked, not
only at Rio Tinto, but also at other mines in the
Provinces of Huelva, Cordoba, Sevilla and Malaga,
in the southern portion of the peninsula.

From Rio Tinto, from Tharsis and Aroche, and
from almost all the ancient workings in the Province
of Andalucia, as well as from others in the adjoining
Province in Portugal, innumerable examples have
been met with of stone implements and stools, cer-
tainly pre-Roman and of great antiquity.



12 THE RIO TINTO MINE

This part of Boetica or Vandalucia was also called
" Beturia " or " Betulia " (Figueroa), and tradition
made reference to the sources of the " Ibero " (Rio
Tinto), known as " Gran Bitania."

Ezquerra, in his admirable work Memoria de las
Minas Naciontyl&s de Rio Tinto > written after he had
for some time been in charge of them, copies a docu-
ment alleged to have been found in the Archives of
the Ayuntaimento (Municipality) Offices of Zalamea
la Real, in the month of October, 1816.

It ran as follows :

" Boetica (the Province) took its name from Beto,
sixth King of Spain, who succeeded Tago ; this
latter followed Brigo, who was the fourth King,
having succeeded Imbal. Ibero preceded Imbal,
and followed Tubal, who was the first King of the
Province. The King Beto was appointed 1822
years before the advent of Jesus Christ, and reigned
31 years. Founded Batulia at the source of the
River Ibero (Rio Tinto) ; worked with prodigious
energy in the extraction of metals from the ruins of a
' Volcan/ which had in ancient times burst out in
that Mountain, and worked and followed the veins,
(' betas ' or * vetas ' so named from the King).

" The wisest of Kings, Solomon, who flourished
992 years B.C., had sent his fleets to Spain. His
people had penetrated these mountains, finding the
ruins of Betulia and the f escoriales / and worked
diligently to obtain the metals. On the summit of
the mountain they built a castle, of which to-day
traces are to be seen, and named it ' Castillo de
Salomon.'

" From the slopes of that Hill is born the River



ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE 13

Ibero (to-day Rio Tinto). A league and a half to
the westward they founded a Town and called it
Salomea, now Zalamea la Real, and in the general
maps of Spain, Zalamea of the Archbishop/'

Unfortunately these assertions, otherwise very
interesting and important, lack confirmation from
other and more authentic source.

Lafuente, quoting Herodotus, says, " that as
early as the 8th Century B.C. a ' bajel ' ship from
Samos, pressed by the ' levanti ' or easterly wind,
was the first to pass the Strait (Gibraltar) and arrive
at the coast of Tartesso, where they made satis-
factory dealings with the natives, and as a result
set apart a tenth of the product and dedicated it to
Juno/' Reference was also made to Argantonio,
who was alleged then to reign over the " Tartesios "
or people of Turdetania or Bcetica, first historical
note or vestige of the government of these parts in
those remote days.

Again, as to the inhabitants preceding the Phoeni-
cians, and who very probably worked in the mines
in this district or Province of Andalucia, Ezquerra,
in the same work, says :

" In the year 1845, in a Mine called Potosi, near to
the Town of Guadalcanal in the Province of Sevilla,
were discovered the human remains of some seven-


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