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Mining & Milling

Arrastra

also arrastre
photo of Spanish arrastra (arrastre)
An Arrastra was a crude powered crusher which goes back to the mining days of the Spanish. Mules, burros or oxen were used to pull a heavy rock around and around to crush the ore.

Process:

The arrastre mining process involves crushing ore-bearing rocks to release the valuable minerals. The crushed material is then mixed with water to create a slurry. This slurry is placed on a circular device known as an arrastre, which typically consists of a central post or pole and a horizontal rotating beam with attached drag stones pulled by mules.

Operation:

The arrastre is dragged in a circular motion over the mixture of crushed ore and water. The drag stones crush the ore even further, facilitating the separation of valuable minerals from the waste material.

Separation:

As the arrastre moves in a circular path, gravity helps separate the heavier valuable minerals from the lighter waste material. The concentrated minerals can then be collected for further processing.

Historical Significance:

Arrastre ore processing was a common method during the 19th century, especially in areas where water power was readily available. It was a relatively simple and effective way to process ore, and arrastres were often powered by animals.

Keep in mind that while arrastre mining was historically significant, modern mining methods have largely replaced such manual and labor-intensive techniques due to advancements in technology and efficiency.


diagram of an arrastra

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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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