It was 1824 when gold was first found on Aruba. Perhaps people found gold before this date but those findings were never registered.
The founder of this ore was a twelve-year-old boy named Willem Rasmijn. He was herding his father’s sheep in Rooi Fluit when he encountered the precious metal. Of course this started a heavy gold fever. Everyone went looking for gold. However what they found had to be sold to the government at a fixed price.
Finally the fever died out in 1830. But with the findings of new gold veins in 1854. The exploitation was going to be handled professionally. In that same year the right to dig for gold was stripped from the locals and granted to the first Company to dig in the Aruban soil. It was of course a Dutch company, Concessie de Jongh, Den Haag (concession the Youngh of the Hague). Though they did not work intensively.
In 1867 the right was passed on to another company, Isola for the next 25 years. Isola had to pay the government f 2.500,= a year. However in 1868 the right was passed on to an American company, Rickect & Co of New York. This company worked with a primitive method. At the mines the rocks and stones would be broken, filtered and the residue would be washed. Isola ( known as Isalo by the old miners who may RIP) worked in the area of Westpunt, Rooi Fluit, Seroe Cristal, Sero Moskita and Tres cabez at the North East Area of Aruba.
In 1872 to 1881 the right was given to the English company Aruba Island Gold mining Company , London. It was finally this company which built the Gold mill of Bushiribana in 1874. The famous Aruban bricklayer or masons at the time, Alexander Donati along with a few other bricklayers of Curacao were hired to lift the massive rock.
These people had to use cranes of wooden beams to put the rocks in place. An old fashioned grind mill was being built.
The idea was to grind the rocks into dust. The mill would be powered by the powerful wind of the northeast sea. The dust would leave the clumps of gold behind to be picked up. But they did not have pure gold yet. This had to be achieved by melting the gold and letting it attach itself to quicksilver.
The areas near the Gold mill, Kadushi, Matividiri, Sero Cristal, Wariruri, and Babijn was mostly excavated for gold. Including the more traditional and new regions like: rooi Fluit, Sabanilla, Piedra Cacho, Daimari, Tamarijn, Parca, Shita and Angochi. The longest mine tunnels were at: Sero Cristal, sero Gerard and Kadushi. But the work there was done in a primitive manner. With a heavy hammer and crowbar the rocks containing the precious gold were released. Then they would be put in a chest and were past from hand to hand to Bushiribana.
This company built the first pier/port of Aruba: Waf’i Compania at Forti Abou. They put up a 10 km long road to transport the machines. 25 Years after Bushiribana was built another mill was built at Balashi. There were probably steam engines, grind mills, water tanks and fern aces, just like the one in Bushiribana. The Gold mill was built of limestone. They chose Balashi, because of the better connection with the sea. The connections were provided by a system of 3 railway lines. The gold was mainly supplied from the area around Mira Lamar.
Of 252 tons ore the company achieved 556,6 Oz. Pure gold. Although between 1878 and 1880 2075 Oz. Fine gold was produced from 2938 ton ore. The capital was half a million sterling which was up in 1874 so they has to put another £ 10.000.
The machines at Bushiribana cost £ 21.000 not counting transport- and installation cost and the high wages. Furthermore all the required machinery had to be imported. Between 1880 and 1881 no gold digging had been done. The right was passed on to the Aruba Agency company, London in 1881.
In 1897 Edward Ibbotson, cousin of one the shareholders of the Aruba island gold mining company, Ltd, began working with the “cyanide” process. His uncle concluded with Ibbotson that this process proved to be more efficient and proved that the old process left more than half of the gold behind. No wonder the old process wasn’t profitable. In 1881 there were only 6 men working in Calbas.
In 1895 came 2 engineers with a new method which was a little profitable. Although there were a lot of accidents. From 1908 the right was given to the Aruba Goudmaatschappij (Aruba Gold mining company). This local company obtained reasonable results. But because of the lack of materials to refine the ore during world war I, the gold digging was stopped in 1916 and was never resumed afterwards.