Einasleigh, Queensland – The township of Einasleigh, originally named Copperfield, was laid out in 1900 by the mining warden on a new township reserve established near the Einasleigh Company’s copper mine. Although the company had been formed only in the previous year, already two hotels, a store, a billiard room, and butcher and baker shops were being built and funds were being collected for a school. The town briefly became the largest population center in the shire during construction of the Chillagoe Company’s Etheridge Railway in the years 1907-10. After the closure of the mine in the 1920s, however, the township almost disappeared and was saved from extinction only by its location on the railway.
Found by Richard Daintree in 1866, the Einasleigh copper deposit was one of the earliest mineral discoveries in north Queensland. It was initially too remote to develop and was abandoned and virtually forgotten after Daintree’s death. The Chillagoe Company rediscovered the Einasleigh shaft when exploring the area and began developing it in 1900 through its subsidiary, the Einasleigh Copper Mines Company. A small blast furnace was erected for smelting in 1902, but until the opening of the Etheridge Railway in 1910 operations proved uneconomical because of high transport costs. The mine closed when the Chillagoe Smelters were shut down in 1914.
Acquired by the Queensland Government in 1919 as part of the assets of the Chillagoe Company, it returned to full production the following year, supplying the reopened Chillagoe Smelters. As the Einasleigh State Mine, it finally closed in 1922 as a result of depleted ore reserves and a post-war drop in the world copper price.