Mount Burr copper mine in the Flinders Ranges

Mount Burr


"The finest show of copper that ever I have seen since I have been in existence. A property second to no mine that has ever been found in South Australia. If I had the Burr mine I should not sell it for $20,000 cash. It is superior to anything else I have ever seen and is a richer show than the Burra mine. I can confidently recommend this property to your notice as a sound investment". These were just some of the opinions held and expressed publicly by some well respected mining men who supposedly knew what they were talking about. Captain Tonkin was never offered the cash for the Mount Burr mine. If he had been, he would have been much better off accepting it and counting his blessings for reality proved again to be far from those optimistic and misleading statements.

The Mount Burr mine is situated about twenty kilometres north of Patsey's Springs, near the Burr creek and the mountain of the same name. The deposit was discovered in 1868 by John Roberts who was well acquainted with the area. He had previously been the contractor for the mails north of Blinman, to the Yudanamutana mine. The copper deposit apparently was nearly forty metres wide and two hundred metres long. It was apparently also possible to "load as many drays as you think proper with ore of twenty-five percent, without dressing".

John Roberts applied for claims no. 2,792, 2,810, 2,811 and 3,098 on 9 July 1868. Within a very short time the Mount Lyndhurst and Burr Mining and Smelting Association Ltd. was formed. It bought the rights from John Roberts and was eventually issued with the lease (no.439) over the four sections. The company issued 3,600 shares of ten shillings each to raise the capital needed to start the mines. Among the directors were once more some well known people such as Ebenezer Cook and Robert Archibald Fiveash.

No sooner was Captain Rosewall appointed than he reported the possibility of large profits from the Mount Lyndhurst mine. Work at the Mount Lyndhurst mine was started at the hottest time of summer, and during February of 1870 Rosewall advertised for fifty to a hundred drays for the mines. The hope of large profits did not last long though! By the end of the year the directors reported to the shareholders that at Mount Lyndhurst results were not as satisfactory as had been anticipated. Want of capital had forced them to suspend the work.

At Mount Burr affairs were not much better. Good ore had been mined in large quantities, but without water and dressing machinery it had no real value. Total revenue from the sales of ore had been just over $3,000. At Mount Lyndhurst the lack of water was also a problem. More than $160 had been used to sink a well to a depth of thirty metres, but no water had emerged. On some of the other claims still held by John Roberts nothing happened either. Claim No. 3,883 was forfeited on 22 April 1872 followed on 7 September by claim No. 4,081.

On 3 June 1873 a special general meeting was held in Adelaide to decide upon the future of the Association. It was resolved that the company should not be wound up but that a further meeting should be held at a later date to consider the best way of working the mine. Very little real mining occurred at any of the two mines during the next twenty-five years, although some individual prospectors and miners did have a try at times on their own account.

With the abandonment of the Lake Torrens Mine its manager, Captain Timby, removed all its plant to the Mount Burr Mine. But little work was done at the time. September 1899 saw the Mount Burr Copper Mining Syndicate incorporated, hoping to sell 100,000 shares of five shillings each. This new company had acted on advice of Captain Piper who on 21 August 1899 had said; "There is an immense body of ore now in sight... and I can confidently recommend this property to your notice as a sound investment". One wonders why and how an experienced mining captain like Richard Piper could arrive at such a conclusion. After all he had been underground manager for B.H.P. at Broken Hill, where he became the first Mayor of that city, and an elected councillor for many years.

Piper had arrived at Broken Hill after extensive experience at Moonta, was the owner at one time of the Sliding Rock mine and prepared mining reports when needed. During 1882-3 Captain Piper was instrumental in bringing more than four hundred Cornish miners to South Australia for the Moonta and Wallaroo mines. While at Broken Hill he was also supervisor of 1,700 men and responsible for the operation of eight blast furnaces.

During January 1900 the company was taken over by the newly formed Mount Burr Copper Mining Corporation N.L. which in turn was wound up within three months. During 1907 some tributers worked the mine and "realised fair returns". After that the mine was almost forgotten until some years later when a little gold was found and several men tried to beat the odds against finding enough to make a living.


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