Mineral wealth has been important in South Australia since the colony’s first years.
The government sent out surveyors and prospectors to look for minerals as well as good farming land.
Systematic surveys of the Flinders have been made by Geological Survey of South Australia from the 1950s onwards.
Social services didn’t exist before 1936, and many men went prospecting themselves, or set out for the mines hoping to make a living – or even a fortune.
The Flinders Ranges have many mineral deposits. Most of the early mines were copper. Other ores found here include lead, zinc, gold, silver, barite and uranium. Brown coal deposits at Leigh Creek have been mined since the 1940s.
Smelters were built near the main copper mining sites at Blinman, Sliding Rock, Ediacara and Nuccaleena.
Bullocks struggled along rough tracks carrying ore from smaller mines through gorges and along creeks to the smelters.
Getting the ore to market was a great challenge. Most mines in the region died due to lack of water and transport problems in the rough terrain.