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OF THE RUBBISH HEAPS OF MINES, AND OF GIVINGS WAY IN THE WORKS "OF MINES.—OF THE PILLARS OF SUPPORT, TIMBER-WORK, PITS AND CISTERNS.—OF THE ACTIVITY WITH WHICH THE JUSTICES SHOULD PROMOTE THE CONSTRUCTION AND PRESERVATION OF THESE WORKS.
ORDINANCES XLI. XLVI. LXXIV.
XLI. Also, we ordain and command, that persons who shall hold or work any mine or mines, shall be obliged to keep them clear, and timbered in such manner that they Bhall not fall in nor become choked; leaving in such mines as shall produce ores of the quality of a marc and a half, or under, perquinlal of silver-lead, such bridges, strengthenings or supports (testeroi), as may be proper for their security and permanence; and such mines as shall produce ores of better quality, shall, besides the above, be very thoroughly lined and secured with good timber; and, in case of the contrary, the justice of such mine shall cause the work to be performed at the expense of the mine owners. And in order that this may be done and performed in manner aforesaid, our administrator-general, or district-administrator, is to observe, and shall observe, particular care in visiting and causing such mines to be inspected, taking with him persons who understand the subject, that he may make such provision as may be requisite, as is mentioned in this and the last ordinance.
XLVI. Also, we ordain and command, that no person, in working or digging his mine, shall be at liberty to throw the earth which he may raise from such mine, upon the mine, or within the pertenencia of another proprietor, under the penalty of ten ducats for every time he shall do so, to be applied as aforesaid. And the mining justice shall, whenever the party may require it of him, cause such earth to be removed and cleared from such pertenencia, at the expense of the party who may have thrown, or directed it to be thrown there, notwithstanding any appeal, or charge of nullity or injustice, that may be interposed; but each person is permitted to carry out the earth from his mine through any pertenencia, provided that such earth be deposited out of the range of such pertenencia.
LXXIV. Also, forasmuch as we are advised, that much inconvenience arises from sinking pits in mines, very near each other at the surface, and likewise from sinking them continuously, without making any landingplaces; not only in regard to their permanence, but also because they cannot be worked or drained conveniently; for a remedy hereof, we ordain and command, that when from henceforth any new mine shall be discovered, the pits continued shall be made ten varas from each other, and each pit shall be fourteen estados in depth; and if they shall have to be sunk deeper, an excavation or recess (mineta), shall be made, before sinking any deeper; from which tho next pit shall be formed. But forasmuch as in many places, circumstances will not admit of this arrangement being adopted; in such cases, what shall appear in the opinion of the administrator of the district, and of other miners who shall understand this matter, to be most convenient, shall be done.
CONTENTS OF THE COMMENTARY ON THESE ORDINANCES.
1. Subject of these ordinances.
2. The rubbish heap of one must not incommode another.
3. It should be on the surface of the mine; but is sometimes permitted to be made within.
4. The justice ought to inspect the timber-work and supports of the mines; but they ne
glect to do so : in consequence of which, the lives of the workmen are endangered, and the interests of the public, and of the revenue, prejudiced; they, therefore, become responsible for these evils. 5 and 6. Of the form of the pillars of support, and their use.
7. Of the distance and thickness of the pillars.
8. The object of lining the pillars with timber, is to prevent their being destroyed by the
ore being stolen. They should be covered with the rubbish, or guards should be placed there to watch them. 9 and 10. It is a great outrage to cut away the pillars, and the justice cannot give permission to do it; but should anxiously watch over the subject.
11. A licence cannot be given to remove the pillars, even upon condition of substituting timber or stone in their place.
12, 13 and 14. What ought to be done if they be, in fact, removed.
15. It is within the ordinary jurisdiction of the courts, to punish for the removal of the pillars. A royal order in support of this opinion.
16. Some mines, forming natural vaults, do not require pillars.
17. The depth of the pits, and their distance from each other, are left to the judgment of the surveyors.
18. It is important that cisterns should be made to receive the water, and conduct it to the pit.
19. They ought not to be cut away, even though the mine become barren; nor should the judges omit to punish such an act.
20. Commendations bestowed upon those judges who exert particular activity in this respect, and likewise in punishing the fault of cutting away the pillars of the mine, or allowing it to fill with water.
1. Of these three ordinances, the 41st agrees with the 44th, and the 46th with the 50th, of the old ordinances, but the 74th does not follow any other ordinance. They all look to the permanence and security of the mines. The object of the 4(3th, is to prevent rubbish from being thrown out upon the mine of another; of the 41st, to ensure the strengthening of the mines internally; and of the 74th, to regulate the arrangement of the pits and landing-places in the best possible manner, according to the judgment of the justice, and of experienced persons.
2. As to the first point, it must be remarked, that although the ordinances
have made the mines liable to various services, yet they do not intend that they should be burthened with the rubbish from other mines, lest they should fall in and be destroyed; their intention being, that each miner should make his rubbish heap in some convenient place, not upon the vein, nor upon the weak parts of the ground. But no question ever arises upon this point in New Spain, because, in that country, each person piles up his rubbish and builds his offices, upon his own ground, without inconvenience to others; and such rubbish is in fact useful, as it may be employed in erecting sheds and buildings to cover the pit, in furnishing earth for "mortar, and in other ways.
3. As the mines are required to be kept free from rubbish, and their passages to be left clear, so that the works shall not be impeded, it follows necessarily, that it is incumbent on the miners to clear out and remove the rubbish and refuse. It may, however, be thrown aside within the mine, if there be any useless cavity in it; that is to say, the inutility of the cavity being first ascertained by the justices and surveyors, and it being shewn that the course of working will not be thereby interfered with, such cavity is allowed to be used as a depository for the rubbish; by which means the expense of raising it to the surface is spared, whilst, at the same time, the giving way, or falling in of the mine, may be repaired or prevented.
4. As to the second point, of the strengthenings, bridges and supports (testeros), it will be recollected, that the ordinance enforces particular anxiety on the part of the justice, in visiting the mines, and causing inspection to be made by experienced persons, to ascertain whether they are well secured, timbered and strengthened with pillars of support. Nothing however, is more neglected than the observance of this precept, although it is, above all others, that which it most behoves the district judge to enforce, on account of the great loss in which the falling in of the mine involves both tho revenue and the public; and still more, from the melancholy effects of such a catastrophe, in overwhelming and Burying the miserable workmen in its ruins, which are consequences of the very greatest moment. And as the cutting away of the pillars (as the miners express it), is a step generally prompted by the lust of gain, the owners should be fined, or subjected to some more severe mark of displeasure, as being the cause of these misfortunes, and of their attendant evils.*
5. Under the name of pillars, is included every thing which prevents the roof of the work, or the wall of the vein, from giving away. If the course
• L. 21, tit.32,partida 3; "They should faithfully and with great earnestness command those who are placed over the works, to execute them, so that nothing wrong ensue through their fault or neglect; and if they shall not enforce the some upon their bodies, and all that they may possess, recourse must be had to the king thereupon." Concordat L. 26, eod. tit. et partit. ibi: "He must keep it up and work it, in such manner lhat it shall not fall in through his default or neglect." "Qui causam damni dat, damnum dedisse videtur." L. 21, tit. 24, part. 7. Krebs, de ligno et lapide, sect. 9. ubi domini tenentur quando damnnm fnnium ac perlicarum vetustate contingit. Et carpentarii tenentur de damno at rnina per negligentiam.
of the vein be inclined, or underlying, the support left between the two walls, so as to unite them, is called a pillar. If the course of the vein be perpendicularly downwards, the pillars are made in such a manner as to rest one upon another. And when the pillar is formed, the work is proceeded in; the roof being secured, so that it shall not give way or fall in.
6. This is not their only use in the perpendicular veins, for they likewise serve to fix and support the ladders, and to afford a resting-place for the workmen; so that if a workman slip, he will not fall to the bottom of the work, but will be intercepted by the pillar. They are also of important use in promoting the circulation of the air, so as to ventilate the works.
7. The distance between the pillars, whether in inclined or perpendicular veins, must be regulated by the firmness or weakness of the mine, and the constitution of the ground, which must also determine whether their thickness shall be two, four or five yards square. For greater precaution is required in some descriptions of ground than in others, so that the security of the mine, and what is more, the safety of the workmen, are consulted by making a pillar at every ten varas, or eight varas, according to the judgment of the surveyors, and the greater or less firmness of the ground.
8. The pillars are formed by leaving a mass of the rock or vein itself, and frequently consist of the very richest ore in the vein. In some places they are timbered; that is to say covered with wood, as has been mentioned before; in others, they are left bare. The object of the ordinance in providing, that when the quality of the ore exceeds a marc ana a half per quintal, the pillars shall be covered with good timber, is merely for their permanent preservation; to prevent their being destroyed by the workmen, for the sake of the ore, which they contrive to steal with the greatest dexterity, without a pick, wedgo or crow, and without making any noise which can lead to their detection. But if the covering them with timber be omitted, on account of the great expense attending it, a guard, at least, ought to be appointed to watch them, or they should be covered with the rubbish and loose stones, which may be substituted in the place of wood. In default of all these precautions, it becomes the duty of the justice to supply the omission, according to the judgment of surveyors, at the expense of the owners.
9. When the pillars are once formed, the owner cannot destroy them, even though they should consist of the richest ore, without being guilty of great breach of the ordinances; nor can the justice authorise their being cut away, cither to the extent of destroying them completely, or merely of picking and weakening them; for the great object of the law, is to provide for the safety and permanence of the mines, and to prevent any giving way, which might lead to their total falling in, and endanger the lives of the workmen. And in case of its being proved and established, that such a catastrophe has been the consequence of the removal of the pillars, it would be proper that the fault should be punished, not only by the forfeiture of the mine, but also by other more severe penalties, according to circumstances."
10. No precautions should be dispensed with to ensure safety, where imminent danger to the life of man is involved; and consequently, as neither the preprietor, nor even an engineer, can be morally certaiu that the ground will hold together without pillars, and as also the permanence of the mine is made by the ordinance an indispensable object; neither the justice, nor any superior judge, be he who he may, can dispense with the precautions for that purpose, without rendering himself reponsible for the serious consequences which may ensue: but on the contrary, these officers are bound to punish the fault of removing the pillars, notwithstanding any pretext or excuse on the part of the owners. The chief alcaldes are bound to inform themselves, whether any impropriety has been committed in this respect, that an inspection may be made, and the matter set right, by providing proper supports; for it should be a primary object with them to provide for the security of the public, and the preservation and improvement of the mines. It would be very proper that these duties should be particularly noticed, when these justices render an account of the discharge of their offices: as the present neglect of those duties is attended with scandalous and lamentable consequences, in the frequent deplorable instances of the falling in of mines, and the consequent loss of life experenced.
11. Nor can the removal of the pillars be permitted, under pretence of substituting pillars of stone and mortar, or any other material in their place; for besides that this would be contrary to the meaning of the ordinances, the security of the ground is not sufficiently provided for by it, nor is it possible, by means of pillars of this kind, to maintain that perfect equilibrium which is preserved by pillars formed naturally out of the substance of the ground; or to support the whole weight of a mountain, which will frequently give way upon removing a single stone from its natural bed, or upon weakening the support in the slightest degree: to say nothing of the great expense of putting up such supports, whether of timber or stone. But the principal objection is, that the water and moisture which filtrate through the mines, prevent such works being constructed with stability.
12. Whence it follows, that if the owner of a mine should, in his eagerness for gain, proceed to cut away the supports, he is, in the first place, to be punished by a severe fine; and in the next place, inquiry is to be made, whether the mine will admit of being made secure by substituting artificial pillars of support, in the place of such as have been cut away or weakened; or whether, on the other hand, it will not admit of being so repaired, but threatens to give way altogether. If the latter be the case, the owner must be ordered, not only to remove all the workmen, but also to close up com
* Vide >apra, n. 4.