The Cornish in Latin America

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Significant numbers of Cornish miners arrived from 1824-5 to work in Latin American mines that lay derelict, abandoned and flooded due to the Wars of Emancipation raging across the continent. Backed by large amounts of British capital some mines were rehabilitated and once more became successful enterprises. In several mining regions of Latin America, such as Fresnillo and Pachuca-Real del Monte in Mexico, the signs of a Cornish industrial landscape complete with masonry engine houses with integral chimneys, betray the involvement of the Cornish in bringing the industrial revolution to those shores. 

But far less tangible evidence for their intimate connection with the Latin American mining industry exists on countless mine maps and plans, the workings often described in typically Cornish terms. For not only did the Cornish bring with them new working practices such as the tribute system, but a vast new mining terminology, some of it derived from the Cornish language. This was added and blended to a rich Ibero-American technical vocabulary resulting in a global mining language. Some of the most common terms and phrases are given; Ibero-American terms are in italics.

BackThe back of a lode is the part of it nearest the surface; the back of a level is that portion of the lode extending above it to within a short distance of the level next above.
BalA Cornish miner's term for a mine.
Bal maidenA female surface worker employed mainly in dressing the ores prior to smelting.
BargainA miner's contract negotiated with the Mine Captain to perform certain work for a certain price.
BarraA bar, an iron crowbar sometimes struck with a pica; equal shares into which the interest in a mine is divided, usually 24 in number.
Barra de plataA bar of silver, usually about 135 marcs or 1,080 ounces.
BarrenaA drill or borer used in blasting.
BarenadoreA man responsible for blasting.
BarreneroA boy who attends with the boring tools.
BarettaA miner's bar or crow.
BarreterosMiners who work with crowbars, wedge, or pick.
BateaA prospector's pan; a wooden bowl used in re-washing ores.
BazoBeneath, low, lower part.
BeneficioMaking the metallic contents of the ore available by reduction.
BobThe engine beam that transfers the power from the engine to the pitwork. The bob wall of the engine house supports this beam.
BlastingShattering the rock-face with gunpowder or other high explosive.
BocaMouth, entrance, or pit of a mine; the first opening made in the vein
BoletasTickets of sale of ores; cheque tickets; account of charges and produce of one amalgamation operation
BombaA pump
BombaderosMen who operate the pumps
BonanzaA mine in bonanza is in a prosperous state; stopping costs, yielding profits
BorrascaA mine in borrasca is in an unproductive state; does not stop costs
BorerA round piece of iron with one end steeled, also known as an augur or drill
BotaA leather or hide bucket used for transporting water
BranchA small vein which separates from the lode, and frequently again unites with it, or a string of ore falling into the lode
BuckingThe final hand reduction of ore for the separation of waste. A bucker performs this task using a bucking iron (short handled, flat faced hammer) on a buck stone to break the ore into walnut-sized pieces.
Bunch or Squat of oreA quantity of ore of small extent; more than a stone, and not so much as a course.
BuddleAn apparatus in which stamped tin is washed from its impurities.
Burning houseThe furnace in which ore is calcined to sublime the sulphur from pyrites; being more decomposed, pyrites are then more readily removed by washing.
BurroA hand whim, a windlass.
BurrowA mound of waste rock or attle.
BusconesTributers, or miners who work on part proceeds; also, those who search for ores in a metalliferous district generally, or in a mine for such ores as may have been neglected and left behind by others.

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