Cooperative Mines of Cerro Rico - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Cooperative Mines of Cerro Rico

Cooperative Mines of Cerro Rico

Entering the mines is like a step in to the past. It is a demanding, shocking yet memorable experience. Visitors can experience conditions much the same as when the Spanish used Andean peasants as slave labourers to work the wealth from the silver deposits in the hills. Guided tours lead groups along the narrow tunnels and up rickety ladders, stopping along the way to chat to the miners at work. Working conditions are primitive, shafts are poorly ventilated and safety provisions barely exist. The miners work by hand, chipping away at the rock and hewing out rough shafts in which to place their dynamite. An occasional blast shakes the tunnels and deafens the ears. Thousands of miners work their way through the mountain with no overall control or plan, chewing their way through bags of coca leaves to fend off hunger and exhaustion, in the hope of hitting a rare vein of silver.

Information & Facts

The mines are located in the outskirts of Potosi
Spanish is the official language, but only 60 to 70% of the people actually speak it, and then often only as a second language. The other main languages are Quechua and Aymar.

The official currency is the Boliviano (BOB), which is divided into 100 centavos, and is tied to the US Dollar. Money can be exchanged at exchange bureaux called casio de cambiosin the main centres, at banks and hotels. Banking facilities are good in the main cities and ATMs cater for Visa, Cirrus and MasterCard. Many hotels and other tourist-oriented institutions accept US Dollars. Major credit cards, including MasterCard, Diners, Visa and American Express, are accepted in the bigger hotels, restaurants and shops. Travellers cheques can be exchanged in casio de cambiosin the major cities and are best taken in US Dollars to avoid additional charges.

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