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The Hacienda Santa María de Regla

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Chapter Summary

The quantitative and historical industrial reconstruction of the refining operations at Regla is possible based on its account books and its extant physical structures. It is a showcase of the final stage of an evolution in spaces, equipment and processes that began in the sixteenth century in New Spain. The operations at Regla at the end of the nineteenth century were representative of the colonial period. From 1872 to 1888, excluding the period from 1874 to mid 1875, the Hacienda de Regla (Hidalgo, Mexico), produced on average 1.64 t/mo. of silver by the patio process. In addition, from mid 1875 to early 1886, it produced 0.38 t/mo. of silver by smelting. This level of production placed Regla among the top industrial producers of silver in nineteenth century Mexico. From 1872 to 1888 Regla refined approximately 350 t of silver, equivalent to 0.7 % of all the silver previously produced in New Spain. This level of sustained production required both a well-planned physical layout of the concatenated process stages, and an efficiently managed operation. On average the internal corridors of mass transit handled flows of material of approximately 40 t/d, 98 % of which was simply the movement of ore from storage to mills to patio or furnaces. Salt, copper sulphate and mercury represent a minor order of magnitude compared to the manhandling of silver ore for the patio process. In the case of smelting, charcoal represented more than three times the mass of silver ore that was smelted. The artificer of Regla used the topography of the terrain to channel the energy of water to the milling equipment, its cooling temperature to the capellinas, and its volume to the patio reactor area.



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