Monday, July 15, 2019

Metal Working in Ancient America – Part VIII – Metallurgy in Andean Peru

Continued from the previous post, regarding the development and possession of metallurgy in early cultures, including the Jaredites and Nephites and their smelting of ore, rather than just cold hammering—and how Mesoamerica finally developed metallurgy long after the golden period of metallurgy in South America had come and gone.
    As for South America, gold is found along the entire length of the Andes Mountains, both in veins and alluvial deposits ( Leonardo Lopez Lujan, et al., "Mixteca Gold," in Joanne Pillsbury,ed., “Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas,” J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2017, p. 120).
    In addition, the Book of Mormon period Peruvian cultures of the Chavín (1000-200 BC), Vicús and FrÍas (200 B.C. to 300 AD), Moche (400 to 700 AD) had "high metallurgical ability, demonstrated by the presence of beautiful artifacts of gold, silver and copper alloys” (Dorothy Hosler and Guy Stresser-Pean, 1992. "The Huastec Region: a Second Locus for the Production of Bronze Alloys in Ancient Mesoamerica," Science, vol.28 August 1992, pp1215–1220).
In addition to this list of the scriptural record, zinc would have been needed to make brass

Since the Book of Mormon specifically states that gold, silver, copper and iron were found in abundance throughout the Land of Promise, let’s take a look at those deposits in Andean South America.
Gold: Gold in Andean Peru is both plentiful and ancient, having been first worked around 2000 BC. It is mostly found in the mountains, but was easily panned along the numerous rivers. The earliest cultures, including Norte Chico, Cupisnique and Chavín, were mining Peru in BC times, as were the Paracas, Nazca, Mochica and Chimu. Gold was a large factor of the Inca Empire when the Spanish encountered them, and gold is still being mined there in great abundance.
    Today, Peru is the 6th largest gold producing country in the world, mining 50% more than Mexico (8th). In fact, the riches of the Andes was a major activity of the early conquistadors, as well as those who followed later. The Andes, which run parallel to the Pacific Ocean from Colombia to southern Chile, holds some of the world’s finest mineral deposits, of which gold, copper, silver and lead are included.
    Even today, gold is plentiful, with both load and placer mining being carried out, especially along the Marañón River and the province of Pata, Libertad; and the Chucapasca mine in Cuzco, which todate, has produced over $7 billion worth of gold. In fact the second largest gold mine in the entire world, with three active pits is Yanacocha just north of Cajamaarca.
Silver: Like gold, silver production has a long history in Peru. So far the earliest discovery of silver smelting in the Lake Titicaca area dates back to 40 B.C. - 120 A.D., which makes it the oldest known silver smelting in the Americas. The discovery was made at Huajje, a U-shaped pyramid with pottery shards dating to 500 B.C., on the northern shores of Lake Titicca in the center of a resource-rich region. and representing the oldest known silver smelting in the Americas. Huajje is situated in a region famous since Colonial times for the rich Laicacota silver ore mines located above the city of Puno, using fairly complex smelting, scorification, and cupellation-related technologies going back to at least the first century AD. It seems likely that silver was being mined there even earlier.
    The process used to produce the silver at Huajje was described as "complex, multistage, labor-intensive. In fact, of these Peruvian silver mines have been dated to 200 B.C., with the silver mines at Potosí in Bolivia producing 200 tons annually, representing 68% of the world silver production.
Copper: There was a high demand for copper in ancient Peru, which dates to 600 B.C. The metal was used for farming, weapons, and in domestic use. According to Georg Petersen, "The lack of studies and statistics make it difficult to estimate the tons and volume of copper consumed during pre-Columbian time. It is similarly difficult to estimate the extent of copper mining that took place in ancient Peru, however, copper was used widely and was very important to ancient Peruvians" (Georg Petersen G., “Mining and metallurgy in Ancient Perú,” The Geological Society of America, Special paper 467, Boulder, Colorado, 2010)  
    Today, Chile is the world’s leading copper producer, with Peru second, containing some of the largest copper mines in the world. In fact, these two Andean countries produce 77.2 million tons annually, while the next eight countries combined, including the U.S. and Mexico, only produce 76.8 million tons.
Iron: It should be noted that South America contains about one-fifth of the world’s iron ore reserves, found in part in the central Andes of Chile and Marcona, Peru. In addition, among ferroalloys, manganese occurs in sedimentary forms in the highland Bolivia. It is also found in much lesser quantities in Chile, Ecuador, and Uruguay. South America is generally deficient in nickel, chromite (chromium ore), and cobalt, although small quantities of all these minerals are found along with other industrial trace minerals in the central Andes of Peru. Chile has the second largest reserves of molybdenum in the Americas, trailing only the United States. It should also be noted that while Ecuador has so far shown limited production of metals, it is largely because of their own unfavorable investment practices, unattractive partnering with the foreign and domestic mining industry, and limited funds to utilize the large quantities of such ores throughout the country. This includes large copper reserves. Like its neighbors, Ecuador has sizeable extractable reserves, including iron ore, antimony, silver and most notably, world-class copper and gold deposits.
    Bordered by well-established mining destinations, Peru and Colombia, Ecuador is considered one of few as-yet untapped mineral regions in an otherwise relatively well-explored continent. However, with the new government that is eager to rebuild the sector and has expressed a desire to more than double the value of contribution to the country’s struggling economy by 2021, which stood at less than 1% of gross domestic product in 2014.
    Foreign mining firms have shied away from investing in Ecuador largely due to unattractive and risky fiscal terms. As a consequence of the unattractive fiscal environment, investment in Ecuador’s mining sector stagnated. In fact, Ecuador received less foreign direct investment per capita in 2013 than any other country in Latin America. It also suffered heavily as the oil price plummeted.
In 2015, keen to turn things around, the government “literally demonstrated a real comprehension of and appreciation for partnering with the [mining] industry through its actions and its policies.” This involved changing some key tax calculations to be more congruent with the needs of the industry, and implementing additional incentives to bring the tax burden in the same range as countries like Mexico and Peru, which receive significant investment in mining.
    The government also adjusted the application of the sovereign adjustment, and the way new concessions are awarded to align “as close to best practice as possible.” If the government remains committed to these new terms, Ecuador will remain one of the most interesting countries for mining investment.
    “Most geologists would say it is one of the most prospective mining jurisdictions in the world… perhaps even in the top five, particularly for precious and base metals. Furthermore, it has excellent infrastructure, relatively low costs, and other competitive factors,” he adds.
    It has since certainly garnered attention and tangible investment. According to Wood Mackenzie, after implementing its recommendations, the country has seen a 200% increase in direct foreign investment, jumping from an average of less than $45m per year to more than $250m per year currently, with an expectation of nearly $1bn per year for the next four years.
    Over 200 new mining concessions were granted in the first year, accompanied by investment commitments of nearly $500m in the first four. And in the last two years, 28 internationally renowned mining companies, including BHP Billiton, Newcrest and Codelco, have established entities in Ecuador to pursue investment opportunities.
Peru makes up most of the metal ores being mined today. Gold, silver and copper have been mined in this region since the very first recorded occupants of this land

In Peru, iron ore mining is in the Marcona District of the Department of Ica, along the coast in southern Peru, 12½ miles south of Lima. Mine output increased to 4.8 million tons (Mt) of iron in 2006 from 4.6 Mt in 2005. The iron ore exports amounted to 6.7 Mt at a value of $256 million compared with 6.6 Mt at a value of $216.1 million in 2005, which was an increase of 18.5% in value compared with 2005. The domestic consumption amounted to 300,000 ton of iron ore, which remained about the same level as that of 2005. Iron ore production increased in response to higher demands in other economies in the Asian region for construction and higher steel output, which had a positive effect on higher molybdenum production as well. Despite labor issues, the production the mine achieved expanded production of 18 million tons of iron ore annually by 2012.
    The point of all this is to show that with specific numbers of mining statistics in the Americas, only Andean Peru has gold, silver, copper and iron in great abundance, matching the description of such abundance in these ores stated in the scriptural record. For the Heartland or Great Lakes theories, they have no standing in such areas as minerals and metals found in the ground as Nephi, Mormon and Moroni write about, and neither do they provide any support for their theories of being the Land of Promise.

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