Bushiribana Ruins Gold Mill Aruba

Since the Spanish Conquistadors began exploring the Caribbean in quest of gold ore and other treasures in the 1400s and 1500s, gold prospectors have played a significant role in shaping the history of the island that is now known as Aruba. However, because they didn't think the island held any gold and didn't have a freshwater source, the Spaniards gave it the name "isla inutil," which means useless island.

In 1824, the Dutch, not the Spaniards, made the discovery of gold ore on the northern coast of the island. From 1824 to 1916, Aruba went through a little-known gold rush and gold was crucial to the island's industry. Over 3 million pounds of gold are thought to have been taken from the island. Even the name Aruba, which translates to "there was gold," honors this extensive history.

At different locations across the island, including gold mines and gold mills, you can still see remnants of Aruba's gold history and visit them today. One such site is the Bushiribana smelter, which was constructed in 1825 by the Aruba Island Gold Mining Company and can be found on the rocky north shore. It was constructed and used for over ten years to melt down gold that was mined in the nearby hills of Ceru Plat. The gold ruins are now frequented by numerous visitors who are en route to see the Aruba Natural Bridge, which collapsed in 2005. Windswept stone ruins at this historic location stand in the center of a sizable area of uninhabited desert land in this tropical paradise.

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Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins

bushiribana gold mill ruins

The Bushiribana gold Mill ruins at one point processed ore from mines in the nearby hills. It once melted gold during Aruba's gold rush in the 19th century but now sits abandoned on the rugged Northern coast. The Balashi Gold Mill, which is a second site, can be seen near what is known as Frenchman's Pass, a group of narrow rock canyons. It was also built to process gold and sits on the point of Spanish Lagoon.Besides the gold mills on the island, you may also visit the remains of old gold mines at Miralamar in Arikok National Park.

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Gold Mill

gold mill

On Aruba's northern shore, desert like and rugged lies the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins built in the nineteenth century after gold was finally discovered in 1824. If you plan on visiting Aruba, it is worth a quick stop to explore the half ruined stone building of the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins and other historic sites. There are many accommodations in the area and the gold mill is accessible by horseback or easy drivable by jeep or compact normal car. If using a regular car be careful as it is an unpaved road. There are also guided tours available featuring many outdoor activities such as: swimming in the natural pool, climb the ruins and dig for gold, maybe taking home a piece of the island's long gone gold mining industry.

The Aruba Island Gold Mining Company, headquartered in London, built the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins in 1872. The stamp mill used the island's powerful offshore winds to crush rock and separate gold ore. The on-site smelter processed ore into fine gold, which was then transported to a close-by harbor for sale.

Before production was stopped in 1883, the mill was in service for a decade and refined more than 2,000 ounces of gold (likely due to the high cost of operation). Another British business, the Aruba Ageny Company, reopened it in 1889. This operation continued for a decade as well. The Bushiribana mill was closed permanently at the conclusion of the 19th century in 1899 as focus shifted to a newer, cutting-edge mill at Balashi, in Aruba's interior. 

All that is left of the Bushiribana Gold Refinery after more than a century of abandonment are its natural crumbling walls, which are in bad shape. Visitors to the ruins can explore the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, walk freely through the dilapidated building, and cautiously ascend the remnants of the staircase's ruins on the mill's southern wall to take photos inside and enjoy spectacular views of the Caribbean. On their way to the natural bridge and other attractions, numerous ATV and off-road vehicle tours of Aruba's northeastern coast frequently stop at the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins.

Aruba's Gold Rush

arubas gold rush

It was 1824 when a twelve year old boy named Willem Rasmijn was herding his fathers sheep that gold was first found on Aruba. If people found gold before this those findings were never documented. This started gold fever on the island and of course, a gold rush was born. All gold had to be sold to the government at a fixed price by the prospectors however. The gold fever of local prospectors had died down by about 1830, but then in 1854 a whole lot more gold veins were discovered. This prompted the next wave of gold prospectors to explore more professionally and have larger scale operations.

The locals' privilege to dig for gold was taken away from them in the same year and given to the first Company to dig through the Aruban soil. Concessie de Jongh, Den Haag, was of course a Dutch company, even though they did not work very hard. As a result, that industry produced not a lot of gold.

For the following 25 years, the right was transferred to another firm, Isola, in 1867 Isola was required to give the government F $2500 annually. But in 1868, the right was once more transferred, this time to a New York-based American business, Rickect & Co.

The gold mine was operated by Rickect & Co. using very rudimentary digging techniques. The quarries would break, filter, and wash the rocks and stones after they had been mined. Isola used to labor in Westpunt, Cristal, and Tres Cabez, the North East Area of Aruba's gold-mining regions.

 bushiribana gold mill ruins

The Aruba Island Gold mining Company, London, an English business, was granted the right between 1872 and 1881. In the end, this firm was responsible for constructing the Gold Mill of Bushiribana in 1874. In the nineteenth century, the enormous rock needed to be lifted in order to construct the gold mill was done so by the well-known Aruban bricklayer or mason at the time, Alexander Donati, along with a few other bricklayers from Curacao.

The old grind mill, now known as the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, required the construction of cranes made of wooden beams to position the rocks in place. The plan was to crush the rocks into dust next to an open natural pool. The mill would run on the strong winds that originate from Aruba's northern coast. The processed ore clumps would be left behind by the dust and would need to be gathered up. However, they lacked pure gold at the time. In order to accomplish this, the gold had to be melted and allowed to bind itself to quicksilver in the smelting works.

Today the Bushiribana Gold Mill of Aruba is accessible by tour group depending on group size, you may take a trip and visit the Bushiribana Gold Mill. It is just a short drive from many other attractions and landmarks and is yet another one of the treasures that Aruba has to offer.

Can you still find gold in Aruba?

Starting in 1824, the gold rush had an impact on Aruba. Tourists have the chance to see and discover a piece at the ruins of the Bushiribana Gold Mill and the Miralamar Mining Complex, both of which are still present in the Arikok National Park.

How much gold was found in Aruba?

Finally discovered in 1824, Aruba's gold mines ultimately yielded three million tons of gold.

What is the old mine in Aruba?

Gold was found in Aruba's Bushiribana Gold Mining Town on the north coast in the 18th century, and the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins are now abandoned.