There were three kinds of labour system at the colonial America: the forced labour, waged labour and slavery.

The conquerors will get to precious metals through trade or looting. The Crown has the ownership over the deposits, which will hand over to the miners the right to exploit them. Even though gold had a high importance, it was silver the metal by excellence of the Spanish Empire. Since the mid 16th Century, new exploitation systems like the mit´a, allows better miner exploitation.

In the 16th and 17th Century, fleets and galleons systems are created in order to protect the precious metals from piracy attacks on their way to Spain.

Regarding the agriculture, there were two kinds of different exploitation models: one oriented towards satisfying the external demand and the other one towards the sustenance for the supplying of the mines.

The most used exploitation systems were the haciendas. In America, the Europeans find a variety of new and different crops, such as corn, potatoes, cocoa, tobacco, tomatoes, bell pepper, cassava, mate herb, beans, etc., but they also bring others like sugarcane. This one is the first and principal of a series of export crops that will extend through all the Atlantic coast of the tropical America.

The colonial manufacture structures itself by handcrafting and homemade production, based on the transformation of land products and focused on textiles, tools, iron products, paper and medicines. In the cities, trade unions are common and since the 16th Century they develop the construction towards textile production.

In the trade area, the Crown creates in 1503 an institution to control all affairs regarding the expeditions and commerce with America. La Casa de la Contratación, establishes in Seville and it handles the well management of trade-traffic with the Indies as a monopoly until 1765.

Along the Modern Era, the exportations of non-metal merchandise increases slowly. Slavery revives due to the tropical monocultures of the New World.