He fell into a long silence before responding with a stupid expression, "Yes?"
Instead of answering Jerome, Iona turned to Leroy.
Leroy calmly accepted Iona's gaze and said.
“Sometimes silence is better than a hundred words.”
“I haven’t said anything yet.”
"Aren't you criticizing me with your expression? I went through the trouble of finding someone trustworthy, but your reaction is disappointing."
After successfully acquiring ownership of the land, Iona and Leroy were preparing to resume mining operations in earnest.
In fact, Leroy had to handle most of the external affairs because Iona, who was surrounded by people on alert, was in a position where it was easier to use someone else.
Moreover, he was already in a state of managing the territory and various businesses as a landlord, and had established a wide network of trust.
So Iona also trusted him and asked him to find someone, but...
'He brought someone without even telling us where they will be working.'
Aside from his willingness to follow Iona's plan, he seemed to have a fairly objective idea of how this would look in the eyes of others.
'Well, proving success is my role.'
Thinking so, Iona looked back at Jerome with a worried face.
Even if it was work done under someone else's name, if given the choice between a place with good and bad profitability, most people would choose the former because the treatment of workers could vary depending on how much profit they bring in.
And the silver mines in Siam were rumored to be ugly in the industry.
Jerome was already sweating with the thought that he had made a hasty decision blinded by greed.
Ioana placed the box she had prepared on the table with a loud thud and said.
Jerome hesitated to accept it and alternated his gaze between Iona and the box.
As Iona urged him on, he finally reached out his hand to take it.
When Jerome checked inside the box, his eyes widened slightly and he said.
"This… … Isn’t it silver ore?”
"Yes. Can you explain to us how to extract silver from it?"
He couldn't understand why Iona made such a request, but Jerome recited the smelting method step by step as instructed.
"First, we crush the silver ore using a crusher to make it into powder. After heating it at a high temperature, it becomes ash, from which we can extract the silver."
"It seems difficult to produce high-purity silver."
"However, silver is naturally mixed with other minerals, so it is difficult to produce high-purity silver."
Jerome replied as if making an excuse.
In fact, this was not even an excuse.
Unlike gold that could be obtained from the beach or riverbank, silver ore was difficult to mine because it must be extracted by cutting into the rock.
It was unclear why the other party suddenly became interested in the silver mine in the Siam region, but it was clear that the opinion was based on not knowing the production process properly.
With the thought that he, too, as an expert, should dissuade her, Jerome spoke cautiously.
"Um, I think both of you need to reconsider resuming production at the Siam mine. The cost of producing machines like the drilling machine alone is already high, not to mention that the materials have to be transported through mountain trails. Besides, the quality of the ore is not good enough to recover the investment cost, and you won't be able to achieve a satisfactory production quantity."
Iona, who was listening to Jerome's explanation, quietly asked.
“What if there was no need to grind ore as before, and silver could be easily extracted from low-quality ore? If so, would the story be different?”
Jerome could not answer Iona's question.
Because that was impossible.
He had heard that some new techniques in distant countries were increasing productivity, but there was no way such advanced technology had leaked out.
Despite this, Jerome felt his hopes rising in his heart, as there was a conviction in Iona's face that was not just simple arrogance.
"Is there another way you know of?"
At Jerome's cautious question, Iona clasped her hands together and explained in a cool voice.
“What I would suggest is a simpler way. Crush silver ore and pyrophyllite, heat them together, mix them with ashes, and boil them. Then the lead and impurities will be absorbed into the ash and only the silver will be separated.”
"It's good to experiment with the thing you just gave me."
This new smelting method, which used lead to extract silver, was also called the retrieval method, and was a technology that was handed down from the East a few years from now.
The reason Iona remembers this process in detail was because she had visited Siam Mine herself as the head of the household in her past life.
She didn't know the detailed requirements like the technicians, but with the basic principles established, it was only a matter of time before she could figure out the remaining information.
“That, that… … Is that true? Is it true that silver was actually extracted that way? If so, how did you find out how? … .”
Jerome was confused and couldn't finish his words properly.
He had worked in the mine all his life, but Iona, who was actually a knight, was teaching me new technology. Wasn't that hard to understand?
Upon seeing Jerome's blank expression, Iona added a suitable story to prevent him from having any unnecessary suspicions.
"I couldn't just leave the land that could make money as it is, so I was looking into various other extraction methods. Of course, I didn't discover the method myself. However, I have no plans to divulge information to the outside world for the time being."
It was a simple logic that if there was a surplus supply, the value would decrease.
Iona had no intention of cutting into her own profit by increasing production that was unrelated to them.
“How about it, are you ready to go down to Siam?”
Upon Iona's question, Jerome blushed slightly. He must have lost control of his expression as soon as he heard about the Siam region.
Since regretting it now would be useless, Jerome tried to show a diligent attitude, even if it was belated.
"Yes, if it's possible to refine it as you mentioned... Perhaps the production volume may exceed your imagination. Moreover, if it's lead, it can be easily obtained. The exact investment cost should be properly calculated on-site..."
“When can we leave?”
"We can leave now if you want. I'll gather workers and go up to the mine as quickly as possible."
"No, let's go up slowly."
At Iona's words, Jerome said haha and smiled exaggeratedly.
He seemed to think that Iona had even joked with him.
However, Iona just stared blankly at him with her expressionless face.
Finally, Jerome's mouth drooped back to its original position.
He asked with a hesitant expression.
"... ....Are you being serious?"
It was a demanding request that made it feel like he was eager to mine silver right away.
Iona felt a sigh escape internally.
'It was because of this.'
Iona asked with a serious face.
“Do you know why the silver mines in the Siam Mountains were once called the Mine of Death?”
Jerome could not answer.
On the other hand, Iona, who posed the question, naturally knew the answer. Startled by Jerome's silence, she spoke up confidently.
"It's because prospectors climbed the mountain in a dream of getting rich quick."
It was because of human greed.
"The commonality among the miners who died at the time was that they complained of dizziness and fatigue. Even the strong miners who were good at using their strength on the ground couldn't handle the mountain. However, people assumed that they were simply tired from the steep mountain path... Even the miners themselves began mining without proper rest. And within a short time, some died from exhaustion, lasting only a day or two, while others barely made it a week before dying."
"Did... ...Did an epidemic break out or something?"
Perhaps feeling uneasy, Jerome finally showed a fearful expression.
It was a fact that he had forgotten about due to his obsession with the new refining method. The fact that silver mine was a notorious place that had produced countless deaths.
At that moment, Leroy, who had been keeping silent, intervened.