The Silver mines at
The Port Augusta Dispatch reported that truck load after truck load was sent down to Port Augusta and said "This will be the making of Beltana". By May the price of a full share had rocketed to $1,600. The members of the company must have been pleased, especially Theodore Hantke and Samuel Gason. People who could not afford an eighth of a share, or even a sixteenth, still came to his store to marvel at such beautiful specimens. If disappointed or sad for not being able to share in all this excitement they could - and many probably did - go to Samuel Gason's hotel and drink away their sorrows.
Still they could take heart. As usual for every boom there will be a bust, and so there was for the Beltana Prospecting Company. After the astronomical figure of $1,600 was reached, nobody owned a full share any more. This was just as well because it was from here that the downward slide set in and the eventual crash occurred. The lode had given out and the copper disappeared from the mine. As a result both the Victory Mine and the Beltana Prospecting Company disappeared from the news.
One of the first silver deposits mined in the Northern Flinders Ranges was at the Avondale mine. This mine, situated about three kilometres South West from the Mount Lyndhurst Trig Hill, was worked in 1884 when Captain James Adams was in charge. Three years later Silvermania seemed to have been replaced by Silvermadness! Speculation was rife and on a grand scale. Numerous silver companies were started during the years 1887 and 1888. Sometimes several companies a day were formed, often with very similar names.
One of these newly opened mines which was "to revolutionise the business in the north" was operated by the Great Gladstone Silver Mining Company Limited, which had its office at Comstock Chambers, King William Street Adelaide. Other companies which operated in the area were the Great Nevada Silver Mining Company, at Wirrialpa, The Great Comstock Silver Mining Company and the Imperial Mint Silver Mining Company at Mount Serle. Most of these silver mining companies never went any further than the x marked on the maps of the plains west of the Flinders Ranges or in the Ranges itself. A few were listed on the Adelaide Stock Exchange but most did not even manage that.
One of the best known, and most successful areas in the Northern Flinders Ranges was the Ediacara mineral field. This field had been worked for copper more than sixteen years before, but not proven to be very successful. With the rich discoveries in Silverton and Broken Hill in the early 1880s, miners in South Australia, the Northern Flinders included, started paying much more attention to the ground over which they walked. Some even remembered old copper mines, abandoned long since, that contained silver as well.
When the Ediacara field was subjected to a closer examination it was not long before the miners realised that this silver-lead mineral was widely spread. Soon there were mines as far as the eye could see, Ediacara, New Ediacara, Ediacara Consols, New Ediacara Consols, Beltana Broken Hill and Beltana Winnowie to name but a few.
The Ediacara Silver Mining Company Ltd., formed in May 1888, was a syndicate of 640 shares of $200 each. This company held as many as twenty-one mineral claims. Several of the miners took up residency in Beltana. Those who lived on the mining sites, and many did, still ordered most of their supplies from the town. One local businessman lost no time advertising his business as 'C.R. Shepherd and Co. Carpenters and Builders, Cabinet Makers, have commenced business at Beltana and Winnowie and are prepared to contract for any kind of Building or Carpentering work. A Stock of Timber, Galvanized Iron, Ridgecapping, Palings, Bricks and other Building Materials always on hand. Mining Companies will save money by engaging us to do their work'.
Before long the residents of Beltana had a petition organised to be presented to the Minister of Mines, asking that smelters be erected at their town, rather than anywhere else. They argued that: with the Sliding Rock to the east, the Ediacara and others to the south, and the numerous copper mines all round the district, smelters should pay handsomely, besides helping to develop the mineral resources of the north and give employment to hundreds of men.