Imágenes de páginas


employed German miners in this district as far back as 1227. colony of Saxon miners is also said to have existed at Novo-Brdo, and from 1427 to 1437 the mines of Upper Moesia were conceded to the Ragusans by George Brankovitch for an annual payment of 200,000 ducats. The works were put a stop to by the conquests of Amurad in 1439, but they were resumed in 1444, when George was reinstated by the aid of the valorous Hunyad. Historians estimate the annual produce of the mines at 120,000 ducats (" Geschichte des Freystaats Ragusa," 'Engel. p. 163). When, in 1455, Sultan Muhammad captured Novo-Brdo, the Servian King, in announcing the disaster to the King of Hungary, designated the place as "caput patriæ et ob mineras nervi bellum."

There are still some small works at Karatova, in Macedonia. The mineral wrought is an argentiferous galena mixed with pyrites and hydrate of iron, in a vein of cale spar, in porphyritic sienite; and similar mines, only in mica-slate, were wrought near Salonica in the time of the Kings of Macedonia. Belon visited these mines in 1568, when there were from five to six hundred furnaces, and government recieved from 18 to 30,000 ducats from them every month. Mr. Urquhart tells us in his "Turkey and its Resources," vol. ii. p. 120, that these mines obtained, under the name of Madena Choria, the privileges of self-administration to the inhabitants, at the expense of a given amount of tribute.

Mines are said to exist near Kostendil and Ochrida. Mount Vitosch, near Sophia, is also reported to be metalliferous, so also of the Rhodophus, alluded to by the ancients as such, and some furnaces still exist at Jelovtzi near Beretkeli, but all these are of uncertain and unknown value.

It is in a similar manner pretended that precious metals are to be met with in Albania, and several streams bear the name of "Ergent," but more probably from the brightness of their waters than from the existence of silver. It appears, however, that the ancients wrought mines in Mount Ergenik, south of Tepelen, in Epirus, and copper is said to exist in the serpentine of the same province.

Wallachia derives more profit from its salt-mines than from any metalliferous deposits. The chief of these are at Pizineaga, in the district of Buseo; at Stanikul, in Sekujani; at Oka-Mare, in Vultscha; and at Akra, in Braovo. There are, however, some important copper mines at Baga d'Arama in Little Wallachia. The veins, which are very uncertain and not to be depended upon, are said to extend over five miles of country, in clayslates passing into mica-shists associated with serpentine and diorites. Several rivers of Wallachia are reported to be more or less auriferous, and M.

Schuler found native gold in veins of quartz in clay-slate near the sources of the Tscherna.

The mines of Asia Minor are far more productive than anything met with in Turkey in Europe, but they are much neglected, and everything is carried on according to the most primitive fashion, with no end of waste in time, fuel, and labour. It is difficult to say what might not be the result of the introduction of capital and science at many of the best-known Asiatic mines. Argentiferous galena has been long known to exist at Maden in the granites and mica shists of the Ida, but the mines are now utterly neglected. The fact is that the inhabitants are deterred from venturing into mining speculations, from the fear of being mulcted by rapacious pashas of more in actual money than can be obtained in metal from the works. Hence it is that the more productive mines are in the hands of pashas who employ uneducated Greeks and Armenians in the works, under the superintendence of still more ignorant Turk captains. All parties are alike suspicious and jealous of one another, and between them all the least possible amount of real work is got through.

The celebrated copper mines known as Maden Kapur, in Taurus, in the neighbourhood of Arganah, are generally spoken of as the mines of Tokat, because the copper is smelted at that town, there being more wood in the neighbourhood. These mines exist in diallage, serpentine, and hornblendic rocks with stea-shists and talc-shists. There are upwards of fourteen different galleries or shafts carried into the hills to extract the ore, and according to information gathered on the spot, the annual produce was said to be 151,000 maunds, or 2,250,000 lbs., upon which there is a loss in the smelting and refining furnaces of 25 to 35 per cent. 1721 maunds of extracted ore is said to yield 154 maunds of copper. There is little reliance to be placed on these figures, although obtained under peculiarly favourable circumstances, the mines having been examined at the request of Hafiz Pasha, at that time Governor of Dyarbekir. An immense amount of copper is consumed by the natives themselves, who use little iron and no tin, whilst every cottage and every Kurd tent has its copper utensils. The richness of these mines may be judged of from the fact of powerful beds of copper ore cropping out to the surface in the bed of the stream that flows at the foot of the mountain. These beds are probably not worked, as from want of appliances the mines would be liable to be flooded.

The so-called Maden-Gomush, or, "Silver Mines," also known as Kapan-Maden are on the Upper Euphrates in the heart of a country rich in mineral products. The formations are mainly argentiferous galena with corneous silver, lead and iron, sulphurets of silver, lead and antimony, and other minerals. The veins, beds, and nodules,

are met with in granite, chlorite shists and limestones. A more minute account of these mines is given in "Researches in Assyria, Babylonia, &c.," p. 279 et seq. The mines are said to yield 13,000 maunds, or 195,000 lbs. of lead and 400 okas or 1000 lbs. of silver annually; 130 maunds or 1950 lbs. of lead yield from six to seven lbs. of silver. The same quantity gave formerly as much as 20 to 24 lbs.

There are, or were, furnaces for smelting iron at the town of Divriki, north of the silver mines. That metal must be very abundant in the neighbourhood, for great boulders of iron were seen in the valley of the Ekmah chaye and on the plain of Divriki. Specular iron, or oligiste, was met with in the same neighbourhood, as also sulphuret of silver with pisolitic chacedony, and likewise uative gold disseminated in particles in granite, the latter in the Dumbu Tagh Mountains, between Divriki and the village of Seliski.

Next in importance to the copper mines at Arghanah, are those called Pakur Kurahsi, not far from Kastamuni. These mines are of great antiquity, and the author of the " Jehan Numa "notices them after Strabo. Gibbon says that in the time of Muhammad II., Ismael Bey, the Turkoman prince of Sinope, yielded to the conquerer of Constantinople, on his summons, a city and a revenue of 200,000 ducats, derived, it is said, chiefly from the copper mines. At the time we visited them ("Travels in Asia Minor, &c.," vol i., p. 77) there were sixteen furnaces, the bellows worked by water-wheels, and convicts were busy turning over and sifting old refuse; but it was said that no ore was extracted from the shafts. The head man of the place was, however, suspicious and reticent, and would neither give information himself nor allow others to give it.

The mines in the Ishik Tagh, north of Angora, were minutely examined at the request and with the aid of Izzet Pasha, as those at Arganah had been explored with the aid of Hafiz Pasha; but the results were very unsatisfactory, for the country was buried in snow at the time, and the veins to which shafts and galleries had been carried appeared to be utterly exhausted. A more ridiculous result attended upon an attempted exploration, also made at the request of Izzet Pasha, of an old shaft long since abandoned, and the entrance closed with shrubs, in the Haimaneh, or great central upland of Asia Minor. The shaft was full of wild animals that had to be smoked out and dispersed before obtaining entrance. This old mine was on the Ura Tagh, and there were ruined furnaces at Karghali, a village some distance off.

Mines of argentiferous galena exist at what is called DenekMaden, above the central valley of the Halys, and they are said to produce 1000 okas of 23 pounds each, weekly, of galena, which quantity yields 2 okas of silver. The Turks are so prone to

exaggerate, that no real reliance can be placed on such statements, but the whole place and its surroundings were kept in good order. There were fourteen roasting furnaces, two smelting furnaces, and one open one for the oxidation of lead and the reduction of silver. A handsome fountain poured its waters into the wasting pond, which was further surrounded with trees. These mines had a large jurisdiction, that included seven Kaziliks or communes, from which both men and fuel were obtained, and the produce of the taxes was also said to be devoted to the mines.

There are also mines of argentiferous galena near the Kulak Boghaz-the celebrated Gates of Cilicia. When the Egyptians held possession of the latter province, Ibrahim Pasha appointed an Italian as overseer to these mines; but when we visited them, he had a large collection of refuse, which he hoped we would agree with him in representing to the pasha as useless. It was, in fact, one mass of blende and bad ore, perfectly worthless.

The Chalybes, like their ancestors of old, are still engaged in scraping the soil of Pontus in search of iron, the ore being found everywhere about the hills near the surface. This is also the case, not only at Divriki, where are boulders of half-a-ton in weight, but to a still more remarkable extent on the southern side of the KhanTagh-a spur of the great Bin-Gul-Tagh, or mountain of a thousand lakes, in Armenia.

The Silver mines of Gumush-Khan, or Silver Khan, between Erzrum and Trebizond, were once celebrated, both for their produce and as a kind of practical school for mines. There is only one mine worked at present, although the whole face of the hill is covered with the remains of old workings and galleries. The gallery at present worked is not, as at Gumush-Maden, propped up at all, nor, notwithstanding the reputation of the place as a school for mining, is there either method, order, or common prudence observed in the manner in which the mines are worked. According to Mr. Hamilton ("Researches in Asia Minor," vol. i., p. 236) these mines produces annually from 250 to 300 drachms of gold, and and about 30 okas of silver, and 120 okas of lead for each oka of silver, in all 3000 okas of lead. As in most other cases, although the mines belong to Government, they are not worked on the public account, but are farmed out on certain conditions highly favourable to Government. The director has, however, the power of purchasing charcoal (one load-100 okas-being necessary to smelt 3 okas of lead) at the low price of two piastres or 5d. per load, being one. fourth of the usual market price; the villages in the neighbourhood are obliged to furnish him with whatever quantity he requires at this price, in return for which they are exempted from taxes.

There are also copper mines in blue shale at Chalvar, near Bai

burt, in the same region.

These mines produce annually from

three to four thousand maunds of Copper; each maund weighs six okas, and is worth 80 piastres, the oka being equal to 2 lbs. Twenty maunds of charcoal, which cost 8 piastres, are necessary for the different processes of roasting and smelting, to produce one maund of copper. The ore, which appears particularly rich, is roasted four times in order to drive off the sulphur, before it is smelted. These mines give employment to 500 persons, i.e., 350 mens and 150 boys: the former receives four, the latter two, piastres per diem.

The copper obtained from the still more productive mines at Arganah Maden is conveyed, by a kind of semi-compulsory process, in its rough state from the mines, to Tokat, between 12 and 14 days journey. The charcoal for roasting and smelting has to be provided by the villagers at little or no remuneration, and even labour is compulsory. True, the peasants are relieved from taxation and military service, but that does not save them from extraordinary contributions, or the capricious extortions of a pasha. It is not to be wondered at, then, that where the most common principles of finance are disregarded, where misrule reigns supreme, and where the people are oppressed, while Government itself is imposed upon, that nothing but failure and disappointment must be the ultimate result.

The metalliferous resources of the great mountain chains of Kurdistan are virtually unknown. We found a vein of galena wrought by the Chaldeans at Taraspino, but merely for bullets, and heard of other mines, but had not an opportunity of examining them. This region would probably present a better field for mining exploration than even Asia Minor. If we consider what the Turks have done, or are still doing, simply as such, the prospects for the introduction of capital and science would be great; but it must also be taken into consideration that many of the mines have been wrought from the most ancient times, and that, with intervals of activity and of neglect, many have passed through the hands of Greeks and Romans, of Byzantines and native races, before they fell under the compulsory and miserly, yet greedy and rapacious, system of the Osmanlis.

The Turkish Government has no school of mines, and even miners, or people having some pretensions to practical experience in mining, roasting, and smelting (Madenji), are rarely to be met with, and they are invariably Greeks or Armenians, whilst the directors and extortioners are ignorant and rapacious Turks. All there is, is an office at Constantinople called the Maden Mukataasi Kalemi, or more briefly, Maaden Kalemi, which is a branch of the Treasury (Terfterdary), and is a place of reception for monies or minerals


« AnteriorContinuar »