The history of base metal mining in America is a subject that has received surprisingly little attention. Much has been written on the exploitation of precious metals - the gold rushes, the colour of mining camps, the effects of increased bullion supplies on the money supply and economic development - while the less glamorous but hardly less important copper, lead and zinc mining industries have been left in the shadows. This apparent lack of interest, however, is not confined to America. In most countries, metal mining history has come a poor second to the study of gold and silver or the often larger and more populous coal industry. Yet things are beginning to change, and the fundamental importance of mining to economic growth and development is now widely acknowledged. Recent weIl attended international conferences on the history of mining have testified to the mushrooming interest in all aspects of the subject.