When mining of copper began at Burra in the 1840's, said to have been the financial salvation of South Australia at the time, the product of that mine was carted to the coast by bullock wagons and the wagons returned with stores and machinery for the mine. Settlements grew up where the bullock teams watered: Mintaro was one of these.
In a creekbed west of the township outcropping flat slate was encountered by the land owner Peter Brady. It was sound material and found use in the simple buildings of the settlement, in blocky form for walls and in slab form for floors. In 1856 this slate bearing area was leased by an English settler and stonemason, Thompson Priest, who began excavating No. 1 Quarry adjacent to the site of the original discovery, using material himself and selling some.
Priest built a house and an office in the township, and a small office and a foreman's house at the quarry. At the quarry ruins of Priest's buildings remain, and in the town his house and office are still in use.
Priest's method of disposing of his slate at this time was to hold an auction. Later the stone was priced at five pounds for a cart load pulled by one horse and ten pounds if two horses were needed!
In 1879 the land on which the quarry is located passed into the ownership of Sir Samuel James Way, Chief Justice of South Australia, as part of his Kadlunga estate. In 1884 competition arose when some local identities, including Way's manager F.H. Weston leased some land from Way, north of Priest's hole to establish another slate quarry. This floundered from lack of finance.
In 1888 Thompson Priest died and his quarry was acquired by a Melbourne firm. It languished during the depression of the 1890's but in 1893 the local syndicate tried again, with Weston as its Chairman and leased Priest's area as well as the area in which the syndicate was previously interested.
In 1911 The Mintaro Slate and Flagstone Company Limited was formed and in 1912 an area of 60-80 acres was purchased from Sir Samual Way together with the Melbourne agency which had been the distributor for Victoria.
In 1978 the Company experienced a takeover, and in 1981 the quarrying operations were again sold being reformed as Mintaro Slate Quarries Pty Ltd. wholly owned in South Australia. This was followed by major expansion and re-equipping.