Material Information

Series Title:
Correspondence and Subject Files 1921-1943
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Physical Location:
Subject Files
1. Diamatina.


Subjects / Keywords:
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Mining -- Brazil.
Diamatina -- Brazil.
Diamonds -- Brazil


Notes relative to past and present conditions and results of diamond mining in the District of Diamantina, Brazil, written by P. H. Rolfs probably from the 1920s or 1930s

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida Archives
Rights Management:
Copyright Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
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Sotes relative to past and present conditions and results of Diaumond
mistng in the district of Diarantina,

The presence of 4damonds in the allTvions of the district was first r)-
ncgnised about 1728; from 1734 onward all areas known to be diamnndiftr-
ous belonged to the ?ortug'zes Crown and no one was allowed to mine within
their limits; this prohibition lasted until 1830; diamond dining wm oex-
tensive under the Grown domination; sinne 1830 mining hnn been nearly non-
That the rliamondn mining oporattons movtrting the period of
1730-1830 inclusive left qcrtain areas, sentionn and spots virgin it log-
ital; there were many reasons for so doing; one nl that you annnot win
I00Q; of anything; that some of the points were known to be so left is alro
logical; that this knowledge wa~ transnitten from one generation to another
tl.rough various channelsf in likewise logical; it is nAnceivable that onhe
of the managers of the Crown operations during the years 17S2-181O innclu-
sive cllbeorately left certain sections (known to be r.ih) unworken with
inetrnotions verbal or written an to their donation with the intention of
returning to'thre at Fome future dlat;: dun to ohangen in nth topography
and errors in the direntions left somen of those points were not loonted;
it is also logical that suany enotionn were left virgin'without the early
workers knowing that they were or might be rich In diamond and gold.
i;any spots have been located from the Instructions left and have been work-
ed with big returns; others have been disoroveor through nareful search
by prospectors looking for possibly rich seotlons; most of them were worh-
o4 During the first 40 years of free minlng Vis. 1830-1870 inOlus n lvo as no
sections have yielded many carats and others rJany hundreds of narats pprr
aubto yard of gravel; nearly all have been of small aroa and gennrally
work out in one dry season; it in, still logical that all ther rinh Rpotn
have not been found, this is :early illustrated by the ganaur attempts to
find virgin spots in the .Jequitinhonha and its tributaries; anor, of theao
attempts result in a total loas, some in a part,i~l losH and sorae in profit.

(;overnarmntal records show that during the past onnturi some very rich
finds were made and also show that since 1900 the finds have been small;
whilet citing the ri.'h finds t would be Intersating to know the fail-
ures and loses; howrevr,the principal point is that those finds do not
tend to a rogulr prosperity and lar.-r employment of labor; the nervios
mre spasmodal andl employ few worknen; the :yfarn of rich finds have been
widely separato4 and the total results won would, if distributed over nIl
thk years, give a low annual outputt; even adrmtting that many of thhes
spots remain (doubtful) to be found theyr cannot be nonnt.ereo an of suf-
fiotent value and interest to present to outsdoe capital looking for prof-
itable employment for iaany yTaraS on a large or even mndium hnale of opr-
In the c-ase of such employment of capital it in necosnary
to attack the lanre and deep areas that the annolnts could not work; the
rich finds have' not produced a general prosperity and frequently ver lit-
tle personal wealth has been left; t-he wealth e.xtracted in one fortunate
yea9r has, an a rale, been spent duii.inr the following yearn looking for
other rich spots; no one st ever qatisfied #wth what hv has won, he nat
look for another; that in the fnnatinton of the mlnor's life; the total
reiCults freiTiently are that the losses exceed the gains; that this is nO
is shown by the personal wealth of Diamnntina; prnctinally no one has made
his money in actual mining operations: of those who today have money near-
ly everyone has madr it in businesses not directly connected with mining;
a few have annumulatnd fair wealth by buying and e'illing diamonds, a few
by receiving varying Silri in cash on options or sales of their rropnrtion


and the majority in scomernial piatrsits; it in nramon knowledge that in
the oase of purchase of properties the buyers have not made profits equal
to the amounts efxpenden 4 in purchase annd equipment; what are the reasons
for the failures and lasses not only by the newnomers but also by the
local owners; is it that the properties are no good?. Is it that the nat-
ural conditions surrounding the mines make it diffloult if not impossible
to work them profitably?, in it that the virgin spots are fewer in nHm-
ber and poorer than thought to be?, iA it that the newoomer and the lonal
miner to not know how to work them?; Dersonally I think the local miner
knows how to work them but that lie laoks capital for large sale working
with improved methods; nonm of the newnomers noull Ao it better with the
same capital beauase they have had experience in other countries; any
attempt to try to fln4 rich spots which 'tradition' sany are nuroly so
is like Tbuyin a lottery ticket w'herin the big praise will. prove to be a
small one.
Tett nt look at the Chapada high level) depoa-
its: -they are fo~nM over af lar3e area of Minas and other states, up to
the present they oan only be considered an widely neparatoA ~auprficial
4epositiona varying fror a few tinhos to 60 feet in depth; at all points
'tero the 4epoqitn have been entlire1 removeA the nolTd honogeneoun tnaA-
etones have been eaonmntsred; the 3.1h. century miners wrere an intelli-
gent, harldy and o vtntlreaomeo race; tihe work n rrIOe out by them prove
this and it seems more than reasonable that, whilst they devoted their
attention to the gravels of the river beds, they must have tunderntood
that the diamonds must have been entrained from higher elevations; it in
quite possible that one or more of them knew that the Chaptin a Adposits
oontained ~lamonds; but, as the condittons prevailing today are the anne
am 150 years ago, they realised that it was infinitely more profitable
to work the river gravels than the Chapa&a Arposits; however this any be
these deposits have only been worked since 1850, ome eo xtfenivev operations
have been effOeteA with varying results followed by pfrriodA of inantivi-
ty; not one of these deposits has fatledA to yleld diamonds: the eoations
that are representAe an being the richer are the ones that today are not
being worked; none of therm seem to have, yielded anything like a fair for-
tune or even a fair Intome extending over many yearn.

The Chapada deposit that has been most onntinuously and profitably workoe
Is the one known as 3Bon Viseta; previous to 1890 it was worked by the lo-
oal owners; in the nineties a french company tried to work it on a large
seale with improved methods; for some reason the, company went broke; the
property and plant was purcha)ne:rF by looal parties who worked it for aono
9 years with good annual profits; siinero 1918 it has been operated by a
3razilian comopanr withi a capital of 5,000 nonton of rels equal, at time
of Inoorporation, to T75 .':00 atorlinrg; after 4 yearn of nontinnoun work
the company has not ;yt declaR.d a Adviden; their installation has not
ooat m nrzh, st tht t they are treating 350 ou.iydA. per rein; with
exchange under fic pFenn and the prioe of diamonds higher than ever be-
fore known the iompanyr should no' mnukr, profit or it never will; aonord-
ing to the publications by Its 'Teohninal Dirontor' the mine proiduca in
the first six months of T9.2 580 cainats of dlanonds, equal to 96.6 narats
p'r month or Just about one iarat pe" ZOO ou.y7d. of material treated;
if eoxhane goose up anA the prion of diamond falls the revemnu will do-
orenne in proportion; f-rom7 t'~~ies fiures we have a a average value for
the Chapada depoAts of one iarnt per 1~j7) -.yls; if the mine-run should
sell at o0$0')0 pn' carat Twe haveo a Value rpr nn.7d4 of P.'000 hence there
will never be a veTry large profit per o n.yd. no latter what the scale of
operation@ maj be; it is not presumable4 that other drpon .ts will average

more per r.yA. than 3na vista; the small vent'urea by the local mariners
have made fair profits on these depoaita, they ules the small streams
plus rain water to operate them, no engineers nor high priceA menhanica
nor offtie rents to be paid; the attempts to work them on a large CFale
have not been s~na qaft; when largs hydro-elentrio power and sufflnticnt
water for dressing pi.urposes nan be provided at a reasonable nost then
these Chapada deposits may bo profitably worked.
Let us look at the river gravels; figures nan be produced which show the
average values in gold. and diamonds to be above .J000o per nu.ya; these
vnlios were won by the andcints havr been won during the last 2 or I
ysars and wAill be more than surFipansed by anyone working virgin areas with
improved nSthods and miohinery that was lacking to the ancients; if they
had hadl the mahinery there worul br, no virgin areas today; the natural
conditions prevailing are better than for the (chapada olaina; the graovls
represent a high nonentration of the diamonds and gold that havf been
entrAined throughout ages from the higher elevations; thore are large
areas that will pay to ,'1eip ran work on a large noale, that will give
employment for many years of oontinuons work with large profits; a Dreodg
handling 800,000 aubl A yards er annum would produce 100,000 narats of
diamonds or .O0 t. Ues as manyt, as -3oa Vista with total. nosts no moros but
it must be noted that the whole of the river loft unworked is not Adrdgo-
able nor payable; only abont 7- of it oan be nonnidaera &r dgeable and
about half of this rmy be payable; bnraitfid the present river bed there
are extensive ar, e underlied with the gravels of the annient river ohan-
nel; many of the promotorn have represented the whole of the river as
being virgin and riomh in gol., dirmonds and platinum; that. any ~notion
left by the anoAnnts mist be as roih as those that they worked; thin m1e
is far from the truth and for many reasons; the ancients were intelligent
they used lon- suindinG bars, could riater.mnn bedrook depth and qnanti-
ties of gravel with these rods; they left certain net.ions betannu bod-
rook wan too deep, eshers because there wan no gravel and others boaunse
oner or two tests shhwed values too low to pno; nnih spots onour today,
they are d to to thet position in relation to the lXoal feeders from the
highlands; this loeal enricnannt is more pronounced in the gold value
than in those of the d}iaronds and is due to the density and form of the
two elements.
There are many doop pools in the Jequitirnhonh river
that vary up to 12-5 feet in depth and which rmst contain large store of
gold and Adamronda; a large part Rmay bo won at big profits as the values
per ou.yd. will be high; on the dredgeable arasn of the river and on the
land sections drilling will establibsh areag depths, qiuantities of gra-
vels and values; a drill on the Ohapndas nan onl.y Cgive arena and depths
it cannot give tales; in fa~ct thore is a large field for intelligent
inspection and operation.

The preoseeing in a oomiaon-sense virn of the polation and was probably
better understood IT) years ago than to day; 'the wine mon from the East'
dia not watt fe.ro0th qentury to visit this dAstriot; it in difficult to
find out what onnarred Xn the I.1th nntiury, administrators, engineers,
miners and geologistp, were sent out from ?ortugal, the swne onourred in
the 19th century and of which we know more about, all the 'wAie men' wore
not PortuersAe, they name from all countries; the oonditlons then prevail-
ing were suah that those visitors could vote more timf, see more and
understand better than the visitor tonays in 18O' Jahn Naws spent woka
visiting the various brownn foprationn from every point of view; in 186.5
St. Hillaire in 1835 Ssohwsge, in IR45 Burton, then G(ardinor. in 1R1T


Boutin, in the eighties Gorooelj then Dery, then GonsftGa Crmpon; besides
these there have been t any 'wise men' visiting this district; vear few
ef them have attrenpea to sgiv positive statanmnts as to the enolonCialn
., formation of the Aistrtnt with its supperDosed diauondifnrmnw deporsitA
some r uh as Goroeix arn .3stin have stated that the great wealth wen
in early days all nuam from the river gravels; of course nearly all the
zomes mentioned were annd are names of noaientifin student of geoptoiog a
formations or of world wide travellers and little internoted in -the am-
meroial postsiblittei onf what thoy r(aw.

Topographi) stdieas of the di.triot and potrographio nstdies of the rooks
anr earths "'f the same leave mucnh for tho imntinniton to Aotormino; a 2
years ovaminration of the bed of the jefiaitinhonha from ;cndanha to the
sea, using 4 ,ansO~, IR men, an 3l pire Drill and various noessOary in-
4 struments ProvifT ftA r data othorwis im pogsible to obtain arA permits.
..thfe titaent thh more wealth remains than has 1eAn taken out; within
the last 20 years many geologists, intermediarles, prantloal minors and
oompetent engineers] have visited Di3anntlna: the geologists namOR eking
selontiflo data and samples for museum display; the interradiarles name
looking for any ol thing, with or without a title, to then return to
their native shores with tales that would knook the 'Arabian NiGhts' in-
to 3 kinds of nci junk; they then Interestle finanniern in their state-
monts as to 'wonderlful 4redgint ponRibiltie..ts, overburden going 27 1/4
6ents in gold per ou.y, gravel values of !7.49 ./2, that the property
.ontatln IO,000.009 aores, only a fet horn ride over finn roadn from
.the railway and a beautiful ollmato otn; well, the financor ngagesa
,MatStt engineer, he pinks lup one or more competent miners and they
Msaasn.tina an4 look fort` thla'twond rftl kthMs the only statement
S that oomes out tvre it the Bea'atiIfl oliraato; the overbiurflen carriof no
gold sad the gravfl value of .7.49 1/2 har dwindled down to a few cents,
the 10,000 odd airan-rti e 2 or 3 hundreds only and the property totally
unfit for dresdrin., W.

There reraalinen nothing for tho :Sineer and the
miners to do but puDk up and go home disappointed with their trip and
obliged to make an unfavoraAle report; the finannolr condemns the whole
country because h4 haA lost money; the engineer and mne7rs nn well an
the financiers meet others who talk o' going to 3raBil and got an oar-
full andl do not ge: in thfi wneo th.i district hap had about, 3 black-oeyo
without deserving then; the intermera arieo anA soon of the companies had
"Wallingforr's aet .rih qutik" tafthoda disqountov from very ange of view;
companies would buy for a song and thn ohargo the public about .000,,
or more for properties; three :asoralho -yndionto, tin englinh corporation,
in itq 3altance Shet shows a sha-re un ,pital of 485,000 and over f275,000
as pail out on properties purnhaned or agree to purchase; investigationF
made here thatt t may have spent 7,000 in pnrhainns andn th' sharn-
holders wonder; the histo?.'y of mining operations in Brazil has not been
suoh a to a gooas tao ra g pnn a too he value of the mines nor the
conditions of working seTan; evrerbody knows the worlil-famed :;onrro relho
mine, its jroat depth, Ito long life eto but when they road the company
reports showing working pnots as around 50/- or .1?.. per ton they nay it
won't do to mine in ,laS.l.; t)hiro are good mlnfe in Brazil, they onn be
,.rmeoe to pay; it is a question of intelligent atmAinistratinf testing the
property before buying, hiring a conmrtent engineer, good ma.nerae apablo
of keeping working ootsf within roaannable limit; many mines have been
spoilt by mis-management; some have retisted all efforts of mis-manage-
Diamantina, Brastil, Maroh 23rd. 1923.
Charles iOnhardnon.


A few notes from records.with impr;smnions,abmot Diamantina.

The town of Tijuio, now called jDiamantina, was built in the I7th.nentury
. b~ the gold miners and gradually increased in importance until 1730 when *
S-diamonds were recognized as being associated with the gold in the gravels;
from this date to 177P the town rapidly increased in population and wealth
notwithstanding that it suffered severely from the many arbitrary aote and
laws of the .Portugues Crown.
On January tst.177P, the rrown commenced the
mining and extraction of diamonds on its own account, all operations, wheth-
er mining, Judicial or local government were under the control of the 'In-
tendente', appointed by the Crown and generally sent from Portugal; previous
to this date the CONTRACTORS were the actual governors, having associated
. with them during their tqrms vTarious officers appointed by the Crown; dur-
S ing their terms many abuses were practiced but the real reign of terror aon-
menaed in 1772 and continued for some 50 years, the town gradually decreaRa
Ing in importance.
Theoe who visit Diwaantina today cannot form an opin-
ion of the wealth and. importance of the city of Tijuco; it in necessary tq
read the records IJ50*1772 inclusive in order to realize the sonial and oom-
aeroial position it once held; in 1770 there were 19 largo stores where fine
allks, satins and cloths were sold and 2. shops selling food commodities;
today there are about 30 shops and 6 stores, the stock of silks, satins
and cloths leave much to be desired.

One only aeeds to read the description of the wealth and power of ,Caldaira
Brant and Joso Fernandes de Oliveira, "rich as a nabob, powerful as a prince"
eto; the riches extracted in those days was simply immense; this wealth are-
ated a demand for l xury, the ostentation of the people increased rapidly,
the men were their Tn long braids with ribbons interwoven, three-cornered
hats, fine silk shirts with low collars, embroidered silk ties, satin vests
or waietonats, fanoy velvet.jackets of divers colors, wide pants of silk or
velvet closed below -the knee with golden buckles, small but beautiful words
with golden scabbards, etc.
It is needless to say that the constuma worn
by the ladies were even more varied and beautiful but requiring the art of
:mediate tU describe; however it may be stated that they wore #lack shoes
with. igh heels and turned-up toes; in fact the people knew not how to pond
their money; private theatricals, fancy balls and elegant dinner parties
were of almost daily occurrence.

It should be remembered that the district under description, had been for
more than T00 years, the scene of extensive mining for gold; the miners
knew all about gold but had no knowledge of diamond mining, their origin,
where to look for them or how extensive the deposits were, in fact it wan
a new industry for them; therefore, when permits were issued at 60$000 per
claim of.L2 feet square, considerable doubt existed as to the profits to be
won; the purchasing power of 60W.000 in those days was probably equal to 500
today; diamonds were only worth I2000 per carat; a .'carat stone was only
* worth twice as much as a one carat stone and a I0 carat stone was worth 5
S times as much as a 2 carnt stone; today, as a rule, when doubling the weight
one quadruples the value, viz:- if a one carat stone is worth a s mxa tI
mafk 1006000 a 2 carat is worth 400^000 and a 4 carat stone is northh
I:600000; i lapidation the loss in weight is about 55% but the value in-
oreases about 30,, vis:- a 4 carat stone in the rough is worth I:S6BO000
and when lapidated will weigh just under 2 carats and be worth 2:080 000.


Diamonds are found presenting many forms and colors; the onmmon or prevail-
ing form here is the octahedron or double pyramid; the value of the diamond
varies as to size, color, defects and flaws; two diamonds of equal weight
may differ greatly as to value; the basis of excellence is the pure white;
again, two stones may both be pure white yet one may have a greater bril-
liance and in french is described as a 'pierre de touche'; its value will
vary as to the buyer's fanny and the size of his bank account.

Liamondiferous occurrences are known to exist in almost every section of
the world; due to divers reasons many of the deposits are unproductive; of
the worked areas South Africa is by far the largest producer, having contri-
buted to the worlds use some 40 tons since 1868; 40 tons or 2P00 millions
of carats; 2 carats to every inhabitant of the States or 8 for everyone in
Brazil; the production for all of Brazil since 1730 may be put at !0 tons,
during a period 4 times as long as that of South Africa and a production of
only 1/4 as much; the area of 3razilian deposits is very large and some day
will produce diamonds on a larger scale.

One frequently hears the statement that the Braazilianndiamond are of a bot-
ter quality than those of South Africa; this probablynnot true; a South
African pure white stone is just as fine and as valuable as an equal stone
from Brazil; what the layman probably wishes to convey in that the Brazil-
ian product provides a larger proportion of ornamental gems to the total
output than does South Africa where 250 carat stones are not uncommon but
are generally yellow in color; in 3razil diamonds of over 20 carats weight
are unoOmmon.
Tho reasons for the marked difference in quality and char-
aster of the output of the two countries are found in the difference in the
deposits from which their respective diamonds are derived; the South African
diamonds are nearly all produced from extinct volcani onhi neys and those
from Brazil come from marine and fluviatilo depositions.

Early text-books tell us that diamonds are carbon op (cheminally pure), 10
of hardness, 3.55 specific gravity, insoluble, infusible and can only be
made by great heat and still greater pressure; new theories and experiments
tell us that diamonds are not chemically pure, that they can easily be bro-
ken, that they are soluble and fusible and in small units that they can be
made with high heat and a low pressure; however, we do know that the din-
monds used for personal ornamentation and industrial purposes were formed
by nature's handicraft at a distance of many mile from the Earth's surface
where the heat in so great that everything is a liquid and that the pres-
sure is such that the liquid must be a solid; when the pressure below ox-
oeeds the resistance above the chimney or fracture occurs and the upward
movement of the solid-liquid takes plane; as the mass approaches the surface
the pressure dooreases and the body liquifie, it. tho surface it flows; dur-
ing the upward movement many diamonds are broken.

The Brazilian diamonds are derived from depositions that have been formed
by marine or fluvial waters and the broken and defective stones have dia-
appeared before the final deposition.
The presence of diamonds in the alluvions of the district of Diamantina was
recognized in or about 1730; after this recognition all lands within the
Comarca of 3erro Frio were declared to be Crown lands and all mining was
pphibtted; in 1732 the Governor of Minns received instructions front Lisbon
taat mining permits could be islled at the rate of 60$000 per square fathom;
the headquarters of the Governor were then at Villa Rina ( Ouro Preto)r;min-
ing was commenced but the tax was found to be prohibitive; many sections

woUld not pay for the labor; many points could not be worked without com-
bining several areas; the money had to be paid before commenoing work; dia-
mond mining was a new industry; muih ground had to be tented to prove that
it was diamondiferous; considerable capital was necessary to initiate work;
I the poor could not afford the expense and the rich would not take the rink;
- gold mining was not permitted; within the district there were several thou-
sand gold mini~lt out of a job; they were now forced to leave the district;
thousands left for other fields, all mining practically ceased; the Gover-
nor seeing the disastrous results of the new laws and requiring months of
time to receive new instructions from .Lisbon issued notice .that permits
would be given temporarily at 20$000 per fathom square; on this becoming
known many of the miners returned and recommnenced work; no one could mil
unless he first showed his permit and receipt of payment; any violatioW
pumahahle by confiscation of any or all property and up to 10 years penul
servf$tde in Angola (penal colony in '7est Africa); the resnlts of diamond
mjiig~j; ere increased activity for the district, the population rapidly in-
creased; the wealth won in mining for diamonds being so mnoh more than for
gold that there was every inducement for mining without permits and on areas
outside of the prohibited grounds; contraband mining became so extensive
that the Crown employed infantry and cavalry which constantly patrolled the
whole district as far north as Grao Mogol.

.revious to T772 diamonds were sold on the market in Tijuco; no one was per-
mitted to biy thon from slaves; tho stores conul only buy diamonds between
sunrise and sunset and with their doors open so that the passing public
could dQtral each transaction; arbitrary laws were enacted and enforced,
the Gofbrnor could, without any formality whatsoever, order the searching
of any private house or other establishment on the sucpinion of infringement
of the laws and even if no proofs were found he could condemn the party.
On the 9th of May 1733 the rate was raised to 25.000 and on 1734
the tax was raised to 40o000 per square fathom and the first official limits
were fixed embracing an area of 84 square leagues; in the sanrthe first
Resident Administrator was appointed; many concessions for gol mining had
previously been conceeded; under the new law even these conoessions could
not be worked as diamonds would be found associated with the gold; in 1739
the Crown decided to cease leasing separate areas and concedA.A ll mining
under one general contract; the first contract: was given Jan. Ist.I40 to
JoRk Fernandez de Oliveira and Francisco Ferreira da silva for a period of
4 years with the right to mine with 400 slaves and paying the Crown 230$000
per head per annum; besides this payment the Contractor had to buy or hire
the slaves, feed, doctor and watch them; all supplies had to be brought from
distant points, everything was expensive, diamonds were worth about 10$000
per carat without regard to sise, gold was only worth 300 rein per grammo;
under these conditions it does not seem that they worked cheaply because
they had slave labor.
In 1739 new limits were fixed embracing further areas;
Jan. 1st. 1744 a second period of 4 years was granted to Oliveira & Co; on
Jan. let. 1748 the third contract was let to Felingerto Caldeira Brant and
his 3 brothers; during their term they won even greater wealth than the pro-
vious contractors; they become so wealthy and powerful as to incur the dis-
pleasure of the Crown and the jealousy of many members of the government;
in 1753 the Marques de Pombal sent instructions to Brazil to arrest Fells-
berto Brant and have him conveyed to Portugal; all of his property was non-
fiscated and many of his friends and associates were prosecuted and muloted;
after his arrest there were found in his safe b33,77 carats of diamonds;
the 4th.oontract was given to Jodo Fernandes de Oliveira also the 5th. con-
tract; Oliveira died in Lisbon after having squandered an immense fortune.


The Zxth and last contract was given to Joa Fernandes de Oliveira iJnior
who;during a period of T0 years won enormous wealth; his father having spoen
all of his wealth the son oommenced as a poor man; however, he won so muoh.
wealth that when the Orown fined him TjJLEV~E MILTJIONS of ruzsados he still
I remained wealthy after paying that larg amount; his associates also became
"' rich; his contract continued for 10 years and expired on Deo. 3Ist.I771;
Sroem this date'the Crown mined on its own aaoount; the sixth contract was
he most celebrated one not only for the amount of diamonds and gold won
but also for the development of the town and its surroundings; those 10
years were the most happy ones for the town and its inhabitants; Oliveira
never persecuted the contraband miners nor enforced the many severe lawj .
due tp his clemency the Crown became active in its opposition to him a ny-
m soalle to Portugal and never allowed to return. "
F- 9
It rl^Apossible to obtain even approximative information as to the,quantity
oag.4wiends and gold won 14 the years 1740-1771 inclusive, nor what had boon
eitrhated in I73-I739 inclusive; the first contractor wanted a large for-
tune, the Brants were very wealthy and the last Oliveira paid a fine of II
millions of oruzados (about 50 cents per ornznado); besides the fortunes
won during 1733-1771 inclusive it is necessary to aonunt for the contraband
and stolen stones; those mist haer been great in number in vTew of the ef-
forts jAhd expenses by the Crown to prevent the same; at the saze time the
expenses of the contractors were excessive and for many reasons; and as gold
and diamonds were of little value an estimation for those 39 years of FOUR
tons of diamonds and 500 for gold is reasonable and still more so when made
for a 0rilod covering 190 years as given in another paper .

The Crown operated from 1772 to 1843; after 1820 its operations gradually
diminished due to difficulties in Portugal and the increased costs of Mining
In Brazil; all points of easy access and considered as rich had been exhaus-
ted; records state that there were sent to Lisbon 1.354,700 carats of dia-
monds; it is said that stealing and contraband mining was mont extensive,
therefore the total amount for those years can be put 3 million narats; the
40 years work by the contractors must have produced 3 times ad much, say
TO million oarats; during their regime contraband and stealing were even
more as there was less opposition and richer fields, the amount may be put
Sat 7 million carats or total of 20 millions or 4 tons; the figures are
S not far out from the reality.
The Crown ceased operations in 1843 but since 1823 the mining area had been
declared opon and private mining permitted; the whole population were born
miners for diamonds, their operations were extensive, many owned large num-
bers of slave, their workings were extensive and remunerating up to 1872.
when the South African fields flooded the markets and caused the price of
diamonds to fall ; this stopped all work in this district for several years;
many small sections of the Jequitinhonha and its tributaries that for vari-
ous reasons had been passed over b. the contractors and tho nrown were found
to be rich, especially the Caldeirnes 'pot-holes in the bedrock) from whioh
hundreds of carats have been won from less than a cubic y ard of gravels;
these later day workings wore carried out under less favorable conditions
than those of the early workers; it is necossary to boar in mind the char-
acter of the rivers before the presence of diamonds was recognized; gold
mining had been extensive for many years previous but always near the head-
waters of the streams where mining was easier and where the gold had aooun-
alated; when diamonds were mined their values being greater permitted the
working of the deeper sections of the rivers; the first claims were only 36
square feet, the first workers chose what was considered the richer and
easier sections without regard to future workings; the same applied to th4


oeati7 itor and ,the crown, no rules were made nor considered necessary, no
one ,thought of working up-stream, they worked where thQ wished; the work
on any given pflnt meant the removal a.f the overburden, the sand and the
.. gravel; the tailings from this point moved down onto the lower section, if
1 it les the work on it was increased; frequently these areas
* r were left for hers easier to handle; in many planes it was necessary to
Divert the rfter waters by building large flames or canaln and damn; thia
Bas not always eaty and adail seotionn were passed by; many points were poa-
aible considered as poor and were passed by when in reality they mayr hhvom
been riih; when building a dra it was always on virgin ground or it would
not hold, this section was never worked; due to these and other reasvF s it
hes been found that many virgin seotions were left between worked out areaoY

Other'and larger areas of virgin gravels are those that the contractors abd
the o eown oould not work with their limitwa means, they cannot be worked
tiay.., tho4 mechanical aspliansoea tpoese are the wide and deep nettions
of .the Jequitinhonha of which the anoients surely had cognizanoe; their sys-
tem of sounding with long iron rods permitted them to determine the presence
of gravels even where bedrock was 40 feet deep; they knot that the deeper
sections were the richer but their operations were limited by their means;
their greatest difficulty was Ide ranh seepage water; this is demonstrated
at varltus point-.on the river where they built large onnalsor flumes and
dams Tfverting the waters and leaning up the river bed, drilling on some
of these areas have shown sections of virgin gravels with bedrook over 45
feet deep lying between esotfonsworked out but with bedrock not over 35 ft.
deep; surely they would not have worked above and below pnd left these bde '
unle s it was for too rmuno water.

Pages could e written oontaining"'moat iinteresting data as to the early gold
and diamond mining of this district and descriptive of the town now called
Diamantina but which when known an Tijuco wan a city pronenting European
Court life when moit of the cities of the States were unknown and not even
thought of.,
Diamantina, Minas Geraes, Brazil.
Maroh 4th. 1923. Charles Richardson.

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