Archive | Global Mining History

How The Mines Of Laurion Saved Ancient Greece And Made Western Civilization Possible – by David Bressan (Forbes Magazine – December 17, 2019)

https://www.forbes.com/

In 480 BCE, the Persian army defeated the Greek forces at the Battle of Thermopylae and invaded parts of Greece. When all seemed lost, a young Athenian politician named Themistocles proposed an unusual plan: the Greeks should not face the Persian soldiers on a battlefield, but rather invest in a fleet. In the naval battle of Salamis, the newly-built ships managed to destroy the Persian fleet.

One year later, without a navy to support their armed forces, the Persians retreated to Asia. A number of historians believe that a Persian victory would have hamstrung the development of Ancient Greece, and by extension western civilization, leading them to argue that Salamis is one of the most significant battles in human history.

The ships that helped to win the battle of Salamis were paid for with silver from the mines of Laurion. The Laurion silver mines are located just south of Athens and are world-renowned for the excellent mineral samples the area still produces today, not just in its storied past. Continue Reading →

[British Mining] Norma Gregory on the Hidden History of Black Miners and Her New Exhibiton – by Alex Kuster (Leftlion.co.uk – November 10, 2019)

https://www.blackcoalminers.com/

https://www.leftlion.co.uk/

Nottingham has plenty of things to be proud of. Our roots being one of them; history is so deeply embedded in many of the things that we all love about this city. But the narrative isn’t fully complete. Historian Norma Gregory has spent the past few years unearthing the untold stories of several black coal miners who lived and worked in the UK.

We spoke to her about her new exhibition, Digging Deep: Coal Miners of African Carribean Heritage which features photos, audio recordings and oral histories that have previously been left unheard…

Tell us a little bit about the exhibition…

The exhibition is currently at The National Coalmining Museum in Wakefield. It’s been a multi-level, multi-pronged, all-hands-involved project. We have interviewed over 67 miners in total so far – we have a database of over 200 names, and that’s all come from word of mouth. Continue Reading →

Nickel Relives The Failed Attempt By The Hunt Brothers To Corner Silver – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – October 20, 2019)

https://www.forbes.com/

Attempts to “corner” a metal market invariably end in tears, if not jail time, which is what happened with silver in 1980 and copper in 1995, so when the market in nickel “inverted” last week warnings were issued that an old game was being played in one of the new generation of battery metals.

The term inverted essentially means that the short-term price of a product, whether a metal or a government bond, rises above the long-term price, which is unnatural and a sign of trouble ahead. An inverted bond yield can be interpreted as a recession pointer.

Three Brothers And A Silver Plan

Silver had its crisis when three brothers who were heirs to the Hunt Oil fortune acquired, or attempted to acquire, one-third of the global supply of the metal. Continue Reading →

Iamgold under fire for alleged poor disclosure over miner death at Rosebel site in South America – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – August 9, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Shares in Iamgold Corp. fell 14.6 per cent Thursday – their steepest drop in nearly five years – as the Canadian miner faces heavy criticism for its alleged poor disclosure over the death of a miner at a South American mine site.

Last week, the Toronto-based company suspended mining at its second-biggest mine, Rosebel in Suriname, after an “unauthorized” artisanal miner was killed, following a confrontation with police. Iamgold said the fracas, which involved an unspecified number of artisanal miners, also caused equipment damage. The company said there are continuing security concerns for its staff at Rosebel.

Artisanal mining is common in Africa and South America, often involving impoverished locals mining by hand. While occasionally legal, artisanal miners often trespass on concessions controlled by international mining companies. Continue Reading →

Poldark and Cornish mining at heart of Perranporth events (The Falmouth Packet – July 29, 2019)

https://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/

Talks on Poldark and beach art are among the free activities helping families learn more about the the mining history of Perranporth.

Experts have been studying the little-known mining history of the vulnerable cliffs overlooking the beach at Perranporth, to show if the search for tin and copper in the area began in medieval or even prehistoric times.

Thousands of visitors enjoy the town’s beach each year, but many don’t realise that many of the caves and huge rock arches in the cliffs are man-made. The coast was used for mining rather than leisure in the past, with the solid rock being tunnelled through by miners. Continue Reading →

10 Gold Rushes You Should Know About – by Brandon Christensen (Real Clear History – July 12, 2018)

https://www.realclearhistory.com/

Gold! Gold! Gold! What is it about this precious metal that causes such a rush among human beings? Throughout history, the discovery of gold veins has sparked mass movements of people and capital to hitherto unknown parts of the world. Gold rushes have been documented as far back as ancient Rome, but most of the major gold rushes occurred during the modern era, which runs roughly from 1500 AD to the present.

The most famous gold rush in American history is the California Gold Rush of 1849, (RealClearHistory covered it recently), but the history of gold rushes deserves a bit more scrutiny. Why on earth would a precious metal cause so much upheaval in population transfers, in spending on infrastructure, and on violence and property rights adjudication? Here are 10 gold rushes in history that deserve more attention:

10. Klondike Gold Rush (1896-99), Yukon Territory, Canada. Let’s start with Canada’s most famous gold rush. While gold was discovered in 1896, the Klondike was so hard to reach (the Canadian government required each potential miner to travel with a year’s worth of supplies before embarking on the journey) that the gold rush didn’t really get going until 1898. Continue Reading →

CZECHS, GERMANS HOPE TO WIN UNESCO LISTING FOR KRUŠNÉ HORY–ERZGEBIRGE MINING SITES – by Brian Kenety (Radio Praha – July 2019)

https://www.radio.cz/en/

The Ore Mountains have formed a natural border between Bohemia and the German state of Saxony for some 800 years. Known in Czech as Krušné hory, the uniquely preserved landscape is also among the most heavily researched mountain ranges in the world.

In total, the Czech delegation to Azerbaijan has nominated five sites in this country for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. A German delegation, with which it submitted a joint bid, has nominated 17 sites on their side of the border.

Michal Urban of the non-profit Montanregion Krušné hory – Erzgebirge, formed to coordinate public and private regional groups in hopes of getting the listing explains how it would help the region. Continue Reading →

Mineweb: Anglo American through the ages – by Ciaran Ryan (Money Web.com – June 13, 2019)

https://www.moneyweb.co.za/

It launched South Africa’s industrial age to support its mining activities, but since 2012 has halved the number of its assets. Where to now?

When the EFF’s Julius Malema talks of white minority capital, he is referring of course to Johann Rupert and the Oppenheimers for the most part. These are the families that helped build South Africa and, for better or worse, guided its political discourse in a direction favourable to their business interests.

Anglo American founder Ernest Oppenheimer would be hard put to recognise the group he founded in 1917. By the 1980s it accounted for a staggering 25% of SA’s GDP and owned an estimated 60% of the JSE – the result of an international embargo that forced SA companies to reinvest profits locally, turning the JSE into an incestuous and distended bubble.

The group that built its castle on diamonds and gold in southern Africa is now a very different animal. Since 2012, it has halved its number of assets, but now delivers 30% more product from each retained asset. Continue Reading →

Digging up Broken Hill’s mining and union history which tells of life and death underground – by Gayle Ball (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – April 25, 2019)

https://www.abc.net.au/

For mine workers in Broken Hill buried in the city’s cemetery, “accidentally killed” was an all-too-frequent epitaph. The headstones at Broken Hill’s cemetery tell the story not only of the city’s colourful history, but the progression of workers’ rights.

Broken Hill’s union movement is widely celebrated as playing a pivotal role in securing better working conditions, as well as the eight-hour working day.

Local historian Christine Adams led a tour during this year’s Broken Hill Heritage Festival focusing on graves which highlighted the city’s union and mining past. More than 800 men were killed on silver, lead and zinc mines in the city. Continue Reading →

Electric cars can clean up the mining industry – here’s how – by Elsa Dominish and Nick Florin (The Conversation – April 16, 2019)

https://theconversation.com/

Growing demand for electric vehicles is important to help cut transport emissions, but it will also lead to new mining. Without a careful approach, we could create new environmental damage while trying to solve an environmental problem.

Like solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage technologies, electric vehicles require a complex mix of metals, many of which have only been previously mined in small amounts.

These include cobalt, nickel and lithium for batteries used for electric vehicles and storage; rare earth metals for permanent magnets in electric vehicles and some wind turbines; and silver for solar panels. Continue Reading →

Every year on ‘Día Del Mar,’ Bolivia celebrates the coastline they lost – by Chantelle Bacigalupo (PRI.org – March 22, 2019)

https://www.pri.org/

This year marks the 140th year that “Día Del Mar” or “National Day of the Sea” is celebrated in Bolivia.

Yes, Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America, but every year on March 23, this holiday remembers the “historical injustice” of the 250-mile Pacific coast that Bolivia lost to Chile in the War of the Pacific. It’s a day where the whole country rallies together to remember its determination to reclaim access to the Pacific Ocean once again.

To understand the origins of the holiday, it’s important to note the complex history of the coast. The 250 mile-coast along the Pacific was a great economic advantage for Bolivia since it possessed the natural resources of saltpeter and guano, a source of nitrates used in explosives and fertilizers until the early 1900s. However, the country’s sights were set on the mining business as its sole means of economic growth before the war.

In fact, Rafael Puentes, the author of “Recuperando la Memoria: Una Historia Crítica de Bolivia,” explains that the birth of the country itself is credited to the tremendous mining wealth found in Potosí, Bolivia. Continue Reading →

HARRY OPPENHEIMER: 110 YEARS AGO, A LEGEND WAS BORN – by Iris Hortman (Israeli Diamond Industry – December 30, 2018)

Israeli Diamond Industry

More than anyone else, Oppenheimer is responsible for associating diamonds with romantic love

Harry Frederick Oppenheimer (1908-2000), born 110 years ago in South Africa, was one of the most prominent figures in the global diamond industry; more than anyone else, Oppenheimer is responsible for associating diamonds with romantic love, and the transformation of diamonds into a symbol of marriage.

Harry was the son of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, founder of the multinational mining company Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, which took over De Beers after WWI. In 1929, Ernest Oppenheimer became Chairman of De Beers. Over the years his son took over, and under his leadership De Beers became a global leader in diamond mining.

Diamonds are Forever

More than anything else, Harry Oppenheimer is remembered for his contribution to the promotion and marketing of polished diamonds. In the mid-1930s, he persuaded his father and the company that they should advertise their polished stones – an innovative suggestion that was initially met with opposition. While some argued that advertising would degrade the image of diamonds, young Oppenheimer initiated a revolutionary marketing concept: Diamonds as a symbol of romantic love. Continue Reading →

The father of modern geology – by Kylie Williams (CIM Magazine – November 26, 2018)

http://magazine.cim.org/en/

James Hutton, a failed lawyer and doctor, was the first person to suggest that Earth was millions, rather than thousands, of years old and established geology as a true science

Looking back, James Hutton was in the right place at precisely the right time. Hutton was born in 1726, the son of a prosperous merchant and city officeholder in Edinburgh, just a few years before the Scottish capital became a “hotbed of genius” as the epicentre of the Scottish Enlightenment between 1730 and 1820. The environment was primed for big ideas, and Hutton’s concept of uniformitarianism shaped an entire scientific discipline.

Hutton’s big idea was that the earth is millions of years old rather than 6,000 years old, which was based on the literal interpretation of the Bible commonly accepted at the time. His theory of uniformitarianism proposed that rocks and landforms observed at the Earth’s surface today record evidence of past changes and are the result of uniform processes acting over long periods of time.

Hutton’s idea challenged the belief that the natural world was static and unchanging, and disrupted the fundamental principle of geology, but it was not easy to convince others and he did not become known as the Father of Modern Geology until well after his death in 1797. Continue Reading →

Coal queen Rita and the lost world of the ‘Pit Brow Lasses’ (Manchester Evening News – December 1, 2018)

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/

Rita Culshaw has lost none of the speed in her nimble fingers. Today they are zipping around the screen of her tablet computer as she keeps in touch with relatives and researches local history.

But turn the clocks back seven decades and the dexterous digits are working away at one of Wigan borough’s many coal mines. As a pit brow lass – pronounced ‘pit brew’ if you’re from Wigan – it was her responsibility to pick the dirt and stones from freshly mined coal. Kitted out in clogs, shawls and head-scarves, Rita and colleagues formed a coal cleaning production line, building a camaraderie forged through silent communication during shifts.

Now referred to as unsung heroines of the collieries, their contribution to the borough and its rich mining heritage – in addition to being heralded as pioneers for gender equality – has been marked this month by the local authority. Continue Reading →

Why ‘pit brow lasses’ were coal mining’s unsung heroines – by Helen Pidd (The Guardian – October 14, 2018)

https://www.theguardian.com/

It is thought of as the ultimate man’s world, a sooty-faced fraternity deep under ground. But it is a little-known fact that many women also worked in Britain’s coal mines, doing crucial jobs to keep the collieries in operation.

The role of “tip girls” or “pit brow lasses” in the coal industry has largely gone unnoticed in history books, with women portrayed as wives or mothers, sitting at home.

A new exhibition at the Mining Art Gallery in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, challenges this long-accepted view. Breaking Ground: Women of the Northern Coal Fields tells the stories of women in the 19th -century mining industry via paintings and archive material, proving they did far more than wash their husbands’ sooty overalls. Continue Reading →