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Spanish province of Ciudad Real, within the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. 46′ N and is 589 meters above sea level. Almadén is approximately...

Spanish province of Ciudad Real, within the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. 46′ N and is 589 meters above sea level. Almadén is approximately 300 disastrous el montes pdf south of Madrid in the Sierra Morena. 1151 by Alfonso VII and given to the Knights of the Order of Calatrava.

The mercury deposits of Almadén account for the largest quantity of liquid mercury metal produced in the world. Approximately 250,000 metric tons of mercury have been produced there in the past 2,000 years. The geology of the area is characterised by volcanism. Almadén is home to the world’s greatest reserves of cinnabar, a mineral associated with recent volcanic activity, from which mercury is extracted.

Cinnabar was first used for pigment by the Romans. Later, the mineral was used mostly in medicine and alchemy during the Arab domination of Spain. The Fuggers of Augsburg, two German bankers, administered the mines during the 16th and 17th centuries in return for loans to the Spanish government. Mercury became very valuable in the Americas in the mid 16th century due to the introduction of amalgamation, a process that uses mercury to extract the metals from gold and silver ore.

The demand for mercury grew, and so did the town’s importance as a center of mining and industry. Most of the mercury produced at this time was sent to Seville, then to the Americas. The dangerous working conditions of the mines made it difficult for the Fuggers to find willing laborers. As the demand for mercury grew, the idea of convict labor was introduced.

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