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The next day, early in the morning, we reached the small village of Rio do Peixe, in the valley and, at dusk, the Gaspar Soares hill. Manuel Ferreira da Camara, General Manager of the Diamond District, had installed here, at the expense of the government, a Royal Iron Factory in the year 1812. It is located on a ledge on the top of the mountain and consists of a blast furnace and two refiners. The ovens, the machine for grinding the minerals, the warehouses, the quarters of the founder and the workers are all set up with luxury, and they must have cost some 200,000 cruzados. To line the ovens, metal was sent from Newcastle, England, because the local quartzite is not fire-proof. We did not find the founder-master, a German, who was not present. He had just left for Vila Rica, and so the ovens were not working. In addition, the blast furnace had not been working for some years, as they were waiting for several smelters from Germany. Provisionally, both refiners produce the iron necessary for use in the neighborhood and the Diamond District. Water is gathered at the top of the hill in a large tank, cemented with iron ore, and led by a canal. Many complain that the installation was made at that place, which suffers water shortage in the dry months. Also the charcoal needs to be taken from the forests below, as those of the mountain would not be enough. When it comes to iron ore, it is so excellent and there is such a large amount available that it would be enough to supply the whole of Brazil for centuries.

Above the quartzite, which is the lower formation, extends into a compact magnetite layer, oligyst-containing mica schist, and the often-cited iron ore deposits. Five different qualities of the mineral differ. The richest, the compact iron and oligist mining is 80% metal, whereas the furnaces can only melt 56% of the diorite-allied mineral (Cape Verde), which appears in large fragments, such as deposits, in red clay, near the factory.


This diorite itself contains 16% iron. In order to extend the factory, Mr. Ferreira da Camara, a friend of the large enterprises, decided to connect the Santo Antonio River with the Doce, to transport the iron to the sea coast and, in return, to bring salt, as well like other articles, for which there is need in the outback. This design influenced the choice of place, against which protests were raised, due to the altitude and lack of water, an accusation that Ferreira da Camara annulled before the government, since he himself would take charge of the factory with reimbursement of all expenses.

A league northwest of Gaspar Soares, we crossed the Lajes Corrego, from whose collapsed quartzite and mica schist stones are washed.