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The source for gold is linked by a relatively large array of mica leaflets, and alternates with deposits of a green clay shale.

In general, the quartz shaft is found between both of these deposits, and crossing the mountain in several directions. Since the mountain was excavated here without any plan and without regular organization, now there is no possibility of following the shafts any further, for fear that the walls may collapse.


As soon as we got out of that ravine and reached the summit, we found ourselves on a plateau, which stretches for a few leagues, without elevation or significant variations. Separate blocks of rock or mounds of loose stones, sprouted with the

Lichens pulminarius

fleshy Melocacto, with a disc of red felt in the middle, or parched lichens, rise here and there among the grass that covers the higher regions; in the low places, there are dark green bushes. After a three-hour horseback ride, which passed the abundant quail (Tinamus major and T. minor),

Tinamus minor

we arrived in Lavra da Bandeirinha. Also here there is the granular (quartzite) mica schist, rich with quartz, which contains little gold; It is extremely abundant, however, both in the weevil over the massive stone and in the quartz gums that run on the surface. The quartz of the latter is very clear and contains beryl crystals, which in purity and brilliance are nothing less than those of the royalty in France.

Beryl crystal

These giant gems are directly torn from the parent rock by black slaves with large picks. The quartz pieces are piled together with the weevil in a pit, where they are washed by means of artificially conducted sludge water jets, which are poured out from considerable height. Several black people are busy agitating the sludge, and the trodden ore, which is obtained in this way, is carefully washed in water in the drums. This metal of the most beautiful color is mostly in leaflets, larger pieces, and crystals, and in fact it is so rich that in less than half an hour we saw the value of a kingdom in the drum. We have already mentioned above how with this rough handling, which is used almost everywhere in Brazil, much gold is flows away and is lost to the owner of the mine; hence the general complaint that gold is increasingly scarce, and the miners do not profit from their costly enterprises with expanses of unplanned collapsed plots of land and sick slaves. We could not fail to make observations about this lack of systematic organization, which we so often had occasion to mention in Minas, that is, like parents, who without discernment dismantle the auriferous lands of the whole hill, making it impassible and impossible for their children to continue the process of the Gold wash.