Records of mining date back to the Bronze Age (c. 2000 B.C.) with southwest Ireland was an important copper producer, with evidence of old workings at Killarney, Co Kerry and Mount Gabriel, Co. Cork. Although gold has played an important part in the cultural history of Ireland, notably in the wealth of recovered gold ornaments, records of gold extraction or its occurrence are relatively sparse and poorly documented prior to the 17th century. Iron was worked in the eastern half of Ireland during the 16th and 17th centuries but it was not until the late Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries that the Irish metal mining industry really flourished.
During this period, almost every county had at least one metal mine producing copper and lead-silver amongst other minerals. Coal was also mined extensively during that time. During the first half of the 20th century, the mining industry was not particularly active, although a wide range of minerals was produced. These include pyrite, phosphate, barite, gypsum and coal, as well as bauxite and rock salt in Northern Ireland. In 1940, the passing of the Minerals Development Act heralded the most intensive period of exploration and mining that has occurred in Ireland, and one that has continued to this day.
- Inventory of Closed Mine Waste Facilities (Historic Mine Site Inventory)
- In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency published the "Historic Mine Site Inventory and Risk Characterisation" report and database.