But in still another way mining was an important agent of capitalism. The great need of commercial enterprise in the fifteenth century was for a sound but expansible currency, and for capital to provide the necessary capital goods – boats, mills, mine-shafts, docks, cranes – for industry. The mines of Europe began to supply this need even before the mines of Mexico and Peru. Sombart calculates that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries German mining earned as much in ten years as trade in the old style was able to accomplish in a hundred. As two of the greatest fortunes of modern times have been founded upon monopolies of petroleum and aluminum, so the great fortune of the Fuggers in the sixteenth century was founded upon the silver and lead mines of Styria and the Tyrol and Spain. The heaping up of such fortunes was part of a cycle we have witnessed with appropriate changes in our own time. (Mumford 1934:75)
MUMFORD, Lewis. 1934. Technique and civilization. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.