The Lost Silver Mines of the Dominican Republic


The Spanish started mining the Dominican Republic around 1494 and by the early years of the 16th century, more and more settlers came to the island in search of precious metals, which at the time were mainly found in the beds of rivers where placer deposits were easiest to recover. The local Arawak Indians that inhabited the islands were enslaved to work the mines on the island. However, by 1525, much of the mining activity here was abandoned due to lack of labor. The Europeans traveling to the new world brought diseases that killed huge amounts of natives of the island, who had no resistance to these new diseases that they were exposed to. Additionally, several decades of mining meant that the best gold and silver deposits had been exhausted.There wasn't much gold anyways but the Spanish did find some valuable silver mines. However, the hauls of silver bars were often looted by pirates that made off with them to hidden caves. Bill Burrud examines the early history of Spanish silver mining in the Dominican Republic in an episode of Treasure from 1959.


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