Founded as the Great Cobar Copper Mining Co in 1870, it was one of the largest mining and processing operations in the world at the time. The Great Cobar Mine situated on a slight ridge and facing West over the Cobar township, would have been a magnificent sight. Huge smelters, a 64 metre chimney stack and electric generators supplied lighting for the whole town.
Over 2000 employees were engaged in mining, wood carting and smelting at the height of the activity. The main mine shafts of the Great Cobar, located south of the Museum building and now fenced off, have deep shafts running down to 430 metres. Remains of the smelter foundations are visible from the top of the hill, east of the Heritage Centre.