This book traces the history of mining and geology from the 1500's in the valuable silver mines of the Erzgebirge Mts of eastern Germany to the rich silver mines of Bolivia, including Potosi. With emphasis on the famous first mining geologist/engineer, Georgius Agricola who wrote his treatise on mining and smelting techniques, De Re Metallica, during the Renaissance and the contributions of some well-known geologists whose theories proliferated during the Industrial Revolution, the close connection between society and the natural sciences is examined. A major section on the engineering application of mapping at a large Canadian open pit mine demonstrates modern geological and geotechnical thinking.
The powerful tools of both the miners and the geologists, dialectical and historical materialism are explained in detail in their relation to the earth's processes, the mining cycle and social redress. The environmental movement and the struggle of the miners for better working conditions and a more humane social system are discussed as is the comparison between the equitable Inca mit'a labour system and the corrupted mit'a of the Conquistadores. Richly illustrated, with 74 figures, and images of the famous scientists and maps and photographs to explain technical points make it highly readable.