History: Copper hidden in the hills at Drake
MINERS stood before an exposed cliff face near Drake in January 1967, the profusion of colour in the rocks after heavy rain hinted at the copper that lay hidden in the ore in front of them.
It was a welcome sight for the miners after months of testing, proof they had discovered a large seam of copper-bearing ore.
The Victorian company AGM Copper Pty Ltd had kept their investigations quiet while they acquired leases and tested the extent of the ore deposits. On verifying the find, 120 square miles were secured and $100,000 spent preparing the site.
Gold had been discovered near the town in 1858, and small copper deposits had been discovered at the same site in the 1950s, but miners at the time were unlucky and missed the copper seam by 12 inches.
The Northern Star reported on January 12, 1967 the company's plans. They hoped to extract 1000 tonnes of high grade ore a month from the open-cut mine, with enough material for at least 100 years of operation.
They hoped to truck the ore to Ballina where it would be shipped to Japan. The plan hinged on an adequate wharf facility being built at Ballina.
It was expected the project would create jobs for up to 100 local people.
Mining is still an ongoing venture at Drake, but the grand plans for an upgraded wharf facility to export the ore did not eventuate.