Silver was discovered in the Gilman mining district in 1878 or 1879. As the deeper sulfide ores were reached, the miners found that the ore contained so much zinc that the smelters refused to buy it. A roaster and magnetic separator were installed in 1905 to separate out the zinc minerals, turning the problem into an asset. The mining operations transitioned increasingly to zinc, although the Eagle Mine was still the leading producer of silver in the state in 1930. The New Jersey Zinc Company entered Gilman in 1912, and over a period of years purchased all the principal mines and the entire townsite. Zinc was the economic mainstay until 1931, when low zinc prices forced the company to switch to mining copper-silver ores. Production of the district through 1964 was 64 million troy ounces (1,990 metric tons) of silver, 348,000 ounces (10.82 metric tons) of gold, 578,000 metric tons of zinc, 114,000 metric tons of lead, and 92,000 metric tons of copper. Zinc production resumed in 1941, and remained the principal product of the mines until they were closed in the 1980s.