What better way to start the new week with a quiet trip down history’s memory lane. On the website of the Sante Fe New Mexican is a fascinating posting on the start of mining by the Spanish in New Mexico. Appears the Spanish merely took over a lead mine, long mined by the Indians:
The principal lead deposit worked by the Indian miners lay three miles west of their village. It was a spectacular vein that came right to the surface, perfectly accessible. The width of the vein was only about a yard, but the depth of the ore body extended far into the ground. Over the centuries, with nothing more than primitive implements, the Indians had created a deep trench that stretched some 60 yards in length.
I always like these stories of early mining: puts to bed the assertion we often hear that native people (Indian, Indigenous, Aboriginal, First Nation, or as you prefer the terminology) that they “lived in harmony/equilibrium with nature, never taking what they did not put back.”
From the very beginning, it has been a quest for resources. Goods and food to sustain and grow a family, group, tribe, or nation. The only limitation has been the instruments available to exploit the resource.
Of course Sante Fe is a perfect example of sustainable development–if you are Spanish or from Hollywood. The Indians would disagree; the article continues:
Then, with the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, all mining came to a halt in the Cerrillos hills. San Marcos pueblo was abandoned, never to be reoccupied, and the Spaniards withdrew to El Paso for a dozen years. Other Pueblo Indians from Santo Domingo and Cochiti came and filled in with rubble all the mine excavations to discourage their reopening should the Spanish occupation resume.
The Fraser Institute in its recent survey of good places to mine rates New Mexico as the 25th best place to mine and gives it a Policy Potential Index of 57.4, just below Western Australia, and just above New South Wales. Interesting to note that the Survey gives New Mexico a 40% rating on the issue of “Uncertainty Concerning Native/Aboriginal Land Clamis.” This put the state about mid-way in the ranking. Bolivia has the greatest uncertainty. Burkina Faso, Ghana, Wyoming, and Botswana round our the places with the least uncertainty. Those are all places with but one majority controlling tribe.
Which gives rise to an interesting piece of advice for mere investors like you and me: in choosing a mine to invest in, preferably find one in a place where there is a single, dominant group and avoid any place that is the favorite of the rich Hollywood type, like Montana and New Mexico, especially around Sante Fe. I mean have you seen No Country for Old Men? Those guys from Hollywood are mean. And see There will be Blood if you do not believe me. Sustainable development means nothing if the place of the mine has long been a mining community, but is beautiful besides.