It was 1824 when gold was first found in Aruba. Perhaps people found gold before this date, but those findings were never registered.
The founder of this ore was a twelve-year-old boy named Willem Rasmijn. He was herding his father’s sheep in Rooi Fluit when he encountered the precious metal. Of course, this started a heavy gold fever. Everyone went looking for gold. However, what they found had to be sold to the government at a fixed price.
Finally, the fever died out in 1830. But, with the findings of new gold veins in 1854. The exploitation was going to be handled professionally. In that same year, the right to dig for gold was stripped from the locals and granted to the first company to dig in the Aruban soil. It was, of course, a Dutch company, Concessie de Jongh, Den Haag (concession the Youngh of the Hague). However, they did not work intensively.
In 1867, the right was passed on to another company, Isola, for the next 25 years. Isola had to pay the government £ 2,500 a year. However, in 1868, the right was passed on to an American company, Rickect & Co of New York. This company worked with a primitive method. At the mines, the rocks and stones would be broken and filtered, and the residue would be washed. Isola (known as Isalo by the old miners who may RIP) worked in the area of Westpunt, Rooi Fluit, Seroe Cristal, Sero Moskita, and Tres Cabez in the northeast area of Aruba.
From 1872 to 1881, the right was given to the English company Aruba Island Gold Mining Company, London. It was finally this company that built the Gold Mill of Bushiribana in 1874. The famous Aruban bricklayer or mason at the time, Alexander Donati, along with a few other bricklayers of Curacao, were hired to lift the massive rock.
These people had to use cranes of wooden beams to put the rocks in place. An old-fashioned grind mill was being built.
The idea was to grind the rocks into dust. The mill would be powered by the powerful wind of the northeast sea. The dust would leave the clumps of gold behind to be picked up. But they did not have pure gold yet. This had to be achieved by melting the gold and letting it attach itself to quicksilver.
The areas near the Gold Mill, Kadushi, Matividiri, Sero Cristal, Wariruri, and Babijn were mostly excavated for gold, including the more traditional and new regions like Rooi Fluit, Sabanilla, Piedra Cacho, Daimari, Tamarijn, Parca, Shita, and Angochi.
The longest mine tunnels were at Sero Cristal, Sero Gerard, and Kadushi. But the work there was done in a primitive manner. With a heavy hammer and crowbar, the rocks containing the precious gold were released. Then, they would be put in a chest and were passed from hand to hand to Bushiribana.
This company built the first pier/port of Aruba: Waf’i Compania at Forti Abou. They put up a 10 km long road to transport the machines. Twenty-five years after Bushiribana was built, another mill was built at Balashi. There were probably steam engines, grind mills, water tanks, and furnaces, just like the one in Bushiribana. The Gold Mill was built of limestone. They chose Balashi because of the better connection with the sea. The connections were provided by a system of 3 railway lines. The gold was mainly supplied from the area around Mira Lamar.
Of 252 tons of ore, the company achieved 5,566 oz of pure gold. However, between 1878 and 1880, 2,075 oz of fine gold was produced from 2,938 tons of ore. The capital was half a million sterling, which was up in 1874, so they had to put in another £ 10,000.
The machines at Bushiribana cost £ 21,000, not counting transport and installation costs and the high wages.
Furthermore, all the required machinery had to be imported. Between 1880 and 1881, no gold digging had been done. The right was passed on to the Aruba Agency Company, London, in 1881.
According to the history, Edward Ibbotson, cousin of one the shareholders of the Aruba Island Gold Mining Company, Ltd, began working with the “cyanide” process in 1897. His uncle concluded with Ibbotson that this process proved to be more efficient and proved that the old process left more than half of the gold behind. No wonder the old process wasn’t profitable. In 1881, there were only six men working in Calbas.
In 1895 came two engineers with a new method, which was a little profitable. However, there were a lot of accidents. In 1908 history, the right was given to the Aruba Goudmaatschappij (Aruba Gold Mining Company.) This local company obtained reasonable results. But, because of the lack of materials to refine the ore during World War I, the gold-digging was stopped in 1916 and was never resumed afterward.
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