Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/464

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one being elected each year by the votes of mine-owners only. The oldest member is president, another the secretary. The board possesses quasi-judicial powers for adjudicating disputed questions, although appeal to the courts may be taken in cases involving interpretations of law. One of the board, with the consent of another member, personally gives formal possession of new locations, or relocations of abandoned mines. The report of the engineer, with a map, is deposited with the board, and, if no objection is made, the formal possession is at once determined on. The fee of the engineer is $20 for every hundred metres. The fee for filing declaratory intention to locate is $4.50, and a government stamp of $1. The fee to the board in granting possession varies from $60 to $80, discretionary with the officiating member. The requirements of the Mexican mining laws simply relate to the width and breadth of the shaft, timbering, and other mediums of safety. They are no more stringent than the intelligent mining superintendent would naturally observe in managing his own property. Work is required to be performed for a continuous period of four months, at the expiration of which an additional four months without work is allowed.[1] The land-owner still retains his right to the geographical surface, except so much as is needed by the mine proprietors for their buildings, etc. In case he so requires, the land-owner is paid a small sum for his property, by mutual agreement. Should a dispute arise, it is immediately referred to arbitration for final settlement. In the State of Hidalgo all mines, regardless of extent, are by law divided into twenty-five parts, called barras, one of which belongs to the State, unassessable. This free barra is supposed to be in lieu of taxation. At the option of the owners, a further subdivision is made, called bonos, which substantially represents the shares. In speaking of the value of ores in this country, it is customary

  1. "The title to the soil of Mexico carries no title to the gold and silver mineral that may be contained in the land. The precious metals are not only regarded in law as treasure-trove, but they carry with them to the lucky discoverer the right to enter upon another person's land, and to appropriate so much of the land as is necessary to avail himself of the prize."—R. A. Wilson.