Copper was discovered near Kadina in 1859, creating a mining boom that populated the area.
Skilled Cornish miners worked the Moonta and Wallaroo mines and the area soon became known as ‘Australia’s Little Cornwall’.
The mines closed in 1923 but you can still wind your way through the ruins of the Moonta Mines today. The Moonta Mines Museum provides a fascinating overview into the regions mining history or you can climb aboard the tourist train for a tour.
Today, several companies are currently exploring for new commercially viable copper deposits throughout Yorke Peninsula.
Gypsum was mined in Inneston, a town at the 'toe' of the peninsula in what is now known as Innes National Park. The park was named after William Innes who discovered gypsum in commercial quantities in the 1880's. A horse drawn railroad ran from the Inneston mining complex to the Stenhouse Bay jetty, where bagged gypsum was loaded onto ketches for transportation. Many remnants of the mining era remain in Inneston as well as the heritage listed Stenhouse Bay jetty. For an insight into the gypsum mining past, you can stay in renovated heritage lodges within the historic Inneston township.
Lime has been utilized since the early days of settlement in its raw form, burnt and marine limestone. Farmers formed rock walls to divide their paddocks instead of expensive fencing and in lean times, burnt lime for shipment to Birkenhead in Adelaide for cement manufacture. As the demand for lime grew, kilns were established at Stansbury and Wool Bay. Marine limestone was also used for flux and was shipped to the Wallaroo and Port Pirie smelters. Klein Point at Stansbury is now the main supply of limestone for Adelaide Brighton Cement, and supplies around 2 million tonnes of raw limestone per year.
Salt production was first recorded in 1864 when Lake Fowler was leased and mined for butcher's salt that was shipped to Adelaide. Edithburgh and Yorketown boomed as salt production continued to increase peaking at 57,000 tons in 1918, the Edithburgh factory finally closed it doors in 1970. Today, Cheetham Salt at Price produces around 170,000 tonnes of salt a year.
Dolomite is still mined today at Ardrossan. Just south of Ardrossan is a huge man-made hill with a fantastic lookout on the top overlooking Gulf St Vincent. If you walk to the other side of the lookout and look inland you can gaze into the huge hole where the dolomite is mined. The dolomite is trucked across the road to the port facility where it is loaded onto ships and transported all over the world.