Mountain near Potosí, Bolivia
Cerro Rico (Spanish for "rich mountain"), Cerro Potosí ("Potosí mountain") or Sumaq Urqu (Quechua sumaq "beautiful, good, pleasant", urqu "mountain", "beautiful (good or pleasant) mountain") is a mountain in the Andes near the Bolivian city of Potosí. Cerro Rico, which is popularly conceived of as being "made of" silver ore, is famous for providing vast quantities of silver for the Spanish Empire, most of which was shipped to metropolitan Spain. It is estimated that eighty-five percent of the silver produced in the central Andes during this time came from Cerro Rico. As a result of mining operations in the mountain, the city of Potosí became one of the largest cities in the New World.History
The Cerro Rico de Potosí was the richest source of silver in the history of mankind. The extraction of mineral ores in Cerro Rico de Potosí began in 1545 by the Spanish Empire. Between the 16th and 18th century, 80% of the world's silver supply came out of this mine.
After centuries of extractive mining methods that severely damaged the local ecology the mountain continues to be mined for silver to this day. Due to poor worker conditions, such as a lack of protective equipment against the constant inhalation of dust, many of the miners contract silicosis and have a life expectancy of around 40 years. The mountain is still a significant contributor to the city's economy, employing some 15,000 miners.
As a result of centuries long mining, in 2011 a sinkhole in the top appeared and had to be filled with ultra-light cement. The summit also continues to sink a few centimetres every year. In 2014, UNESCO added Cerro Rico and Potosí to its list of endangered sites, owing to "uncontrolled mining operations" that risk "degrading the site".Labor and methods of extraction at Cerro Rico
Originally, the Spanish Empire used a forced labor system called "Repartimiento de Indios" ...