How to Operate a Small Scale Mine

How to Operate a Small Scale Mine

Any mining engineer with a desire to operate independently, with some financial backing, and with no fear of heavy responsibility and long hours, should be able to make a comfortable living in Mexico. Barring a few inconveniences such as a lack of satisfactory liability or accident insurance, the difficulty of obtaining repair parts for vehicles, and the length of time required to receive returns from shipments, the operation of a small mine is not at all difficult. It is, in fact, a little easier to find a good prospect in Mexico than in the U.S.

Location of Claims

If the prospect has an owner, an option can be taken either under the name of some reliable Mexican, before the Inmigrante passport is obtained, with an agreement to transfer later, or under the engineer’s name after the Inmigrante has been obtained, but also after permission is obtained from the Sria. de Relaciones Exteriores in Mexico City. Care should be taken to be sure that the document is an option not a contract to purchase, because under the latter a tax of 10 pct plus becomes due immediately.

If the prospect is on open ground it can be located under the same personal restrictions as under optioning. There are two types of location: 1—Cateo, where there has been no mining at all, in virgin ground. One can locate 9 Hectares, about 22 acres, 300 meters square with sides N.S. and E.W. This costs 30 pesos and requires no monuments on the corners, merely a hole 3 meters deep, and two monuments in the center. Compass bearings to some prominent landmarks to locate it are included in the description. A Cateo requires no annual work— is not transferable, and is good for 2 years, at which time it is Caduco or vacant, unless it is changed to an Explotacion location. 2—An Explotacion location can be made any size or shape and have any direction. Its cost is 60 pesos for 10 Hectares, plus one for each extra hectare. After its acceptance it must be surveyed and monumented, with stone and mortar monuments, 1M x 1M x 1M, so each one is visible from two others. Annual work must be done and reported and taxes paid to hold this type. It is never patented but can be held indefinitely in this manner and is transferable. An Explotacion location can be made covering new or old claims or changed from a Cateo within 2 years.


small mine old-style transportation

small mine building mine road

small mine typical camp at prospect.

By making a monthly statement to the Sria. de Havienda covering tons, metal content, and to whom shipped, a reduction in production tax can be had. A new mine receives 50 pct reduction for 2 years, 30 pct for 1 year, and 10 pct for 1 year. A mine that has been idle for 10 or more years receives the same, except 50 pct for only 1 year. This production tax is based on the gross value of any metal paid for. There are two other taxes called Ad valorem, which total 17.85 pct of an arbitrary value of the metals, but this is offset by a bonification or credit, which almost eliminates this tax, making it of small effect.


The basis of employment at the beginning is most important and will affect the labor question during the life of the enterprise.

Each man should be individually hired and sign a contract, say for 90 days. This contract states the work is the beginning or development of a mine and is not permanent. This should be renewed and kept in force. There is a chance that after several years in some labor dispute they might be questioned, but they are the best protection known for a small operation. Without such a type of individual contract, workers are entitled to 90 days severance pay when the mine closes. It is very difficult to discharge an employee but absence without permission and drunkenness are the most available causes. If one becomes too bad, discharging him and paying him a small sum is the usual out. A newly employed man works 30 days under test. If he is acceptable he signs a contract, if not, he is discharged with no obligation. The closer the scrutiny the foreman uses in sorting out the bad ones during this period, the surer the work will go smoothly.

When air is used light mounted wet sinker drills with 7/8-in. hollow hexagon steel, and automatic rotated wet stopers, with the same steel, are employed. After trying detachable bits, carballoy bits, hand sharpened steel and throwaway bits, the latter are now used with excellent results. A hand shanking device gives good results.


Market for carbonate ores in the U.S. is logically the AS&R Co. plant in El Paso, but they are diverted to their Selby plant at times.


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