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Discovery of gold and diamond mines in Brazil

01/01/1697

Portuguese colonial Brazil gold coin from the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

The discovery of gold in the early eighteenth century was met with great enthusiasm by Portugal, which had an economy in disarray following years of wars against Spain and the Netherlands. A gold rush quickly ensued, with people from other parts of the colony and Portugal flooding the region in the first half of the eighteenth century. The large portion of the Brazilian inland where gold was extracted became known as the Minas Gerais (General Mines). Gold mining in this area became the main economic activity of colonial Brazil during the eighteenth century. In Portugal, the gold was mainly used to pay for industrialized goods (textiles, weapons) obtained from countries like England and, especially during the reign of King John V, to build Baroque monuments such as the Convent of Mafra.

Minas Gerais was the gold mining center of Brazil, during the 18th century. Slave labor was generally used for the workforce. The discovery of gold in the area caused a huge influx of European immigrants and the government decided to bring in bureaucrats from Portugal to control operations. They set up numerous bureaucracies, often with conflicting duties and jurisdictions. The officials generally proved unequal to the task of controlling this highly lucrative industry. Following Brazilian independence, the British pursued extensive economic activity in Brazil. In 1830, the Saint John d'El Rey Mining Company, controlled by the British, opened the largest gold mine in Latin America. The British brought in modern management techniques and engineering expertise. Located in Nova Lima, the mine produced ore for 125 years.

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Published in 3/04/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

All events in the topic Portugal Chronology:


22/04/1500Discovery of BrazilDiscovery of Brazil
01/01/1572Luís de Camões publishes Os LusíadasLuís de Camões publishes Os Lusíadas
01/01/1580Loss of independenceLoss of independence
01/12/164013/02/1668Portuguese Restoration WarPortuguese Restoration War
01/11/1755Great Earthquake of LisbonGreat Earthquake of Lisbon
27/10/180701/01/1810French invasionsFrench invasions
24/08/1820Liberal revolutionLiberal revolution
07/09/1822Brazilian independenceBrazilian independence
01/01/182801/01/1834Civil War between Liberals and AbsolutistsCivil War between Liberals and Absolutists
11/01/1890English ultimatumEnglish ultimatum
01/04/1903King Edward VII of England visits PortugalKing Edward VII of England visits Portugal
01/02/1908RegicideRegicide
05/10/1910Establishment of the RepublicEstablishment of the Republic
01/01/1961Outbreak of the Colonial WarOutbreak of the Colonial War
25/04/1974Democratic RevolutionDemocratic Revolution
01/01/1986Portugal joins the EECPortugal joins the EEC
13/12/2007Treaty of LisbonTreaty of Lisbon
01/01/1498Vasco da Gama reaches India by seaVasco da Gama reaches India by sea
01/01/1532Colonisation of BrazilColonisation of Brazil
04/08/1578Battle of Alcácer QuibirBattle of Alcácer Quibir
26/04/1821Return of the court to LisbonReturn of the court to Lisbon
20/09/1834Acclamation of Queen Maria IIAcclamation of Queen Maria II
18/03/1842Coup d’état by Costa CabralCoup d’état by Costa Cabral
01/01/1843Start of the construction of Pena PalaceStart of the construction of Pena Palace
01/03/1846Rebellion of Maria da FonteRebellion of Maria da Fonte
15/11/1853Death of Queen Maria IIDeath of Queen Maria II
31/01/1891Republican revolution of 31 JanuaryRepublican revolution of 31 January
09/03/1916Portugal enters the First World WarPortugal enters the First World War
01/05/1917Apparitions at FatimaApparitions at Fatima
10/06/1944Opening of the National StadiumOpening of the National Stadium
06/08/1966Opening of the bridge over the TagusOpening of the bridge over the Tagus