Manganese mining - Newtown and Seru Francisco Jobo

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

The last few timesMijnbouw Newtown 20160331 003 small we canvassed the slopes of the Seru Francisco Jobo from the Christoffel national park. We covered most of the slope on the side of the Christoffel park and found several locations where surface mining was done. We also covered part of the Seru Francisco Jobo on the Western (Jerimi) side but didn't find remains of manganese mining at that side. But the buildings of the mining plant are located on that side of the mountain so it is probable that also at that side mining has been done.
So this time we went from Lagun to the Western side of the Seru Francisco Jobo; along our route we passed the Newtown buildings and the large dam with on both sides of the dam mining buildings. The other sleuths did this already during a trip a few weeks ago that I couldn't attend so our focus was mainly on the Western slope of the Seru Francisco Jobo, but I took the chance for a quick look at all the buildings that we passed.

 We parked our cars in Eddy's yard. From there we walked over the asphalt road till the partial overgrown barrier that marks the beginning of the path to the buildings of Newtown and the remains of the mining buildings. Newtown consists of three large buildings and a large water building attached to one of these three buildings. The style is very different from the country houses in Curaçao as you can see in the pictures. Not much is known of the function of these buildings. The buildings have a date in the facade of 1880 so they are built as part of the mining operation here. The same style is found in the buildings at Fuik bay where the phosphate mining operation was located. Both mining operations were owned by the same person, John Godden from England. So probably the style is based on a style found in his home country.

Continuing along the path we reached the large dam with a splendid and very large Palu di sia on top, the largest one that I know on the island. The dam is probably constructed from the rocks that remained from the manganese mining. A similar pile of dark gray rocks can be found on the other side of the Seru Francisco Jobo beneath the two mine tunnels. It is unclear if it is excavated rock or rocks that have gone through part of the refining process.

At the Western side of the dam are the remains of one of the two buildings that probably where in use to refine the manganese ore into either manganese or an exportable refined product. In the Western building two small water tanks can be found inside the building and a large water tank outside. In one of the walls of this building a chimney can be seen. In the building at the Eastern end of the dam two large foundations can be seen. Probably the foundation of a stone crusher. In the immedate vicinity of this Eastern building we found pieces of coal and also cinder, one of the rest products of heating an ore to separate the metal from the ore. Fred did a test with a piece of this cinder and found out that it is attracted by a strong magnet. So it contains at least a bit of iron. On the side of the Seru Francisco Jobo we also found rocks which contained iron. Maybe the difference in the melting point of iron (1538 Celsius) and manganese (1246 Celsius) was used to separate the manganese from the iron in the ore. At least an interesting find in our search and explanation of the manganese mining here.
All of the machines that were used in this process were removed from the buildings when the mining operation appeared not profitable. That was already within one year. The machines were removed from the buildings and transported to Fuik bay where they have been seen by a Dutch parliamentarian in 1904.

From there we went through a roi uphill. We hoped to find indications of mining on this side of the mountain and also indications of the usage of a chute to get the ore from the other side of this mountain to the factory beneath. We didn't find either of these. What Karel did find was a bee's nest just when he wanted to sit down for our apple break. Instead of sitting he had to run from the bees. He was stung several times. Based on this experience we decided to look for another spot for our break.
The only possible indication of activity on this side of the mountain was a bare patch; maybe the result of removing a top layer of manganese ore. No rocks containing manganese on this side of the mountain as we already had concluded during our previous searches higher up on this side of the mountain. Also no traces where chutes could have been used. Not so strange because these could be moved from place to place where and when they were needed.

This concluded our current hike and also our search for the manganese mining activities here. We walked back to where Eddy lives and there we had some drinks on his deck overlooking the sea.