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.

Safety fuseInvented in 1830 and patented in 1831 by William Bickford of Tuckingmill. A stream of gunpowder was inserted into a core of twisted flax yarns, bound with twine and sealed with a waterproof varnish of tar. The fuse burnt at a regular 30 seconds per foot.
SalitreNitrate of soda.
SalitreraNitrate mine.
SalitreroNitrate mine owner.
SamplingThe taking of a portion of ore for the assayer.
SettA mine or number of mines taken on lease.
ShaftA pit - the perpendicular opening to a mine.
SlimesMud containing metallic ores; muddy or earthy particles mixed with the ore.
SpallingReducing the ore into smaller fragments with long handled hammers after which it is cobbed.
SocovónAn adit or water level driven from the earth's surface either on the course of a lode, or to intersect it.
StackMine chimney
StampsMachinery for crushing ores.
StemA day's work.
StrakeA launder or wooden box without ends, in which the process of washing or tying is performed.
Stock WorkArea of mineralised ground where the veins of ore are very numerous and small. Applicable to both underground and surface.
StopeA horizontal lode. To stope - to excavate horizontally layer after layer.
StullTimber placed in the backs of levels and covered with boards to support rubbish.
Sturt or StartA pitch taken by a tributer at high tribute and which subsequently proves very rich.
SumpA pit sunk in the engine shaft below the lowest workings. The sumpmen assist the pitmen and attend to the machinery in the bottom of the engine shaft.

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