Irvinebank, near Mareeba, is west of Cairns on the Atherton Tableland. Once a rich mining town, it is now virtually abandoned. Established in 1884, it yielded tin until about 1900. Many of the buildings in the town are heritage-listed.

At a time when gold was the glamour industry of the region, mining magnate John Moffat concentrated his investments in base metals, notably tin and copper. He built a battery and smelter at Irvinebank, and lived in the town from 1883. An estimated 10,200 tons of mineral was exported from Irvinebank over its 40-year life. When metal prices fell in 1907, the decline of Moffat’s empire began. Moffat retired in 1912, and died in Toowoomba in 1920.

The State Government purchased the Irvinebank works in 1919, for use as a State treatment works for local ore. It operates as a museum today and is significant for its ability to demonstrate the range of processes and technologies used at the mill over more than a century.