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Technology and the Search for Progress in Modern Mexico$
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Edward Beatty

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284890

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284890.001.0001

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Cyanide and Silver

Cyanide and Silver

Chapter:
(p.134) Six Cyanide and Silver
Source:
Technology and the Search for Progress in Modern Mexico
Author(s):

Edward Beatty

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520284890.003.0006

The use of cyanide to refine gold and silver provides our third detailed case study. Beginning in the 1890s, miners and metallurgists working in Mexico introduced the use of cyanide to separate gold and silver from their ores, which is representative of a broader set of processing technologies within the export sector. Though quickly applied in gold mines, efforts to adapt cyaniding to Mexico’s predominant silver ores proved much more difficult. Sustained experimentation eventually yielded the necessary adaptations, and by around 1906, the cyanide process dominated all precious metal refining. As with glass bottles, the challenges of adoption created many opportunities for substantial learning. In mining, however, it was foreign workers, engineers, and managers who accrued new expertise, most of whom would leave Mexico during the revolution. Mexican engineers and skilled workers, who had played prominent roles in the industry a generation earlier, had been largely squeezed out.

Keywords:   gold and silver mining, mercury amalgamation process, cyanide process, MacArthur-Forrest cyanide separation process, Cassel Company, Mexican Gold & Silver Recovery Company, mining engineers, Guanajuato, adaptation, industrial mining

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