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Taxco, Guerrero, México.

Taxco is the oldest mining district in the American continent. Its silver mines and the work of its craftsmen, skilled in the use of this esteemed metal, were known worldwide. Both these activities date back to the beginning of the colonies, and although the mines of Taxco are no longer as important as they used to be, having been superseded by other more productive mines, this was not the case in the nineteenth century. In this period, it was so well known that Baron Von Humboldt himself went to Taxco just to visit the mines.
Before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, there was an ancient settlement, situated about ten kilometres south of modern Taxco, known as Taxco ‘El Viejo’. The new city of Taxco is situated on the side of a mountain called ‘Tetelcingo’, which means Small Mountain, and the name Taxco comes from the Nahuatl word ‘tlashco’, which means ‘place where the ball game was’. This region was ruled over by a governor who had been designated by the Aztec Emperor, and had seven tax paying provinces, which, it would seem, paid with pieces of primitive metallurgy.
The mining was done almost on the surface with the deepest excavations being no more than 65 metres. The greatest development was the use of the amalgamation process of Bartolome de Medina, after its introduction the yield from the mines was greatly improved and the HACIENDAS DE BENEFICIO proliferated.
In the XVII century José de la Borda, a mining businessman, arrived to Taxco in search of the famous riches it was becoming known for. He excavated El Pedregal, El Coyote and Cerro Perdido mines. As a sign of his success in this town, he built the Temple of Santa Prisca, saying ‘God gives to Borda, Borda gives to God’. The temple is now the emblematic building of the city.
In the metallic mineral deposits of Taxco, silver came from the oxides, as well as the complex ores of lead-zinc and some copper and gold. In the Taxco area there are 50 documented mineral deposits of importance, half of which lie in a north to west direction. The most important veins are close to 2000 metres long, although, the majority vary between 500 and 700 metres, with widths that vary from one to three metres with some reaching almost eight metres. The district has been characterized as an epithermal system with low, mineral deposits in the form of veins, mantles and irregular bodies of silver-zinc, all of which are associated with the magmatic event of the Sierra Madre. Its mineralogy is composed of galena, sphalerite and chalcopyrite. The dominant gangue is quartz, pyrite and chalcite.

Luis Lyons photo
Luis Lyons photo

Although Taxco, historically speaking, is perhaps the most famous mining district in the world, and even though mining is still carried out today, its days of mining glory are now in the past. Its beautiful architecture, picturesque setting and the exquisite silver work of its artisans however make it a very popular tourist destination. It is likely for Taxco to retain its fame for many years to come.