Make your own free website on Tripod.com

THE FOLLOWING ARE ARCHAIC SPANISH-AMERICAN TERMS RELATED TO MINING IN MEXICO AND THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST. THESE TERMS, MANY OF WHICH APPEAR TO BE SLANG DEVELOPED BY MINERS TO GET THE JOB DONE, ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN MINING AND SCIENTIFIC PRESS (2 FEBRUARY 1907:156-157) IN AN ARTICLE BY H. E. WEST. THEY WERE FALLING OUT OF USE IN 1907 AND ARE ALL BUT GONE TODAY.

Antiguas - generally refers to old mines worked at some (vague) time in the past

Arrastra - a mule- or horse-drawn device, often consisting of a vertical post and horizontal beam attached to an animal, used for dragging or rolling stones over ore to crush it to a size suitable for processing

Aviador - one who invests working capital in a mine. Shares are of two kinds:

Aviadoras - shares based on direct investment in a mining operation

Aviada - shares floated on a free market and subject to speculation

Barras - shares of a mine; under Spanish law generally 1/24 of a mine

Barretero - lit. one who works with a bar; a general term applied to a mine worker.

Beneficio - refers to any process whereby metal is extracted from ore

Haciendas de beneficio - refers to treatment plants of any and all sizes

Bolsa - a small pocket of ore

Bonanza - an ore shoot

Borrasca - an area of barren ground

Carga - a mule-load of ore; volume is not specified

Cargadores - mule-skinners

Chiminea - a raise

Comida - a stope or area of "eaten out" ground

Compromiso - an indentured worker obliged to pay off his debts by laboring in a mine.

En partido - refers to the practice of allowing miners to work for a share of ore rather than wages; similar to the Cornish practice of leasing

Ensayer - an assayer

Escalera - refers to the notched poles (aka "chicken ladders") used for moving vertically in a mine shaft

Gambuchino - a prospector

Magistral - roasted copper ore

Malacate - a horse-drawn whim; used more generally to refer to all hoisting equipment

Minero - a mine owner or foreman

Operarios - a general term for an unskilled laborer working in a mine; a position below that of a barretero

Planchas - a thin piece of metal

Pozo - a mine shaft (alt. Tiro more common in Mexico)

Rastron - Chilean mill

Respaldo - the walls of a mine; further distinctions among parts of a wall include, e.g.,

Respaldo arriba or Respaldo alto - hanging walls

Respaldo bajo - footwall

Rumbo - the strike or orientation of an ore vein

Socavon - an adit or level in a mine

Socavon crucero - a cross-cut

Tanates - bags, often of leather, used to remove ore from a mine

Tanatero - one who packs out tanates

Tentadura - a test for the metal content of ore; often completed using a horn spoon

Terreno - a waste dump of rock that does not contain valuable ore

Torta - a cake of ore ready for processing

Veta - a vein of ore; the addition of other adjectives is used to describe the character of an ore vein in more detail, e.g.,

veta ramal refers to a branching vein of ore;

veta recestada refers to an inclined vein of ore;

hilos perdidos refers to small veins on the verge of petering out