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Archive for July 7th, 2009

Call on freeze for opal leases

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Farmers are lobbying the NSW Government in Australia to hold off releasing any more opal prospecting blocks near Lightning Ridge in the state’s north-west.

The NSW Farmers Association wants a freeze on prospecting releases until landholders’ concerns have been addressed.

Chair of the association’s conservation and resource management committee, Louise Burge, says some opal miners are not properly rehabilitating mine shafts and waste dumps, causing environmental and occupational hazards.

“The problems with opal mining claims over private farm land have extended over a period of approximately 20 years,” he says.

“And the standards of mining and lack rehabilitation are what really you’d expect in third world countries, and this is what’s happening in Australia right now.”

Source: ABC News

Opal miners shy away from land releases

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

There has been a dramatic drop in the number of people applying for new opal mining land at Lightning Ridge.

Ballots for 12 areas opened last Friday and so far there have only been about 40 applicants for each plot.

This is compared to hundreds of bids per ballot the last time new land was released a few years ago.

Maxine O’Brien from the Lightning Ridge Miners Association says changes to the way the Department of Primary Industries releases opal mining land is one reason for the decline in applications.

“It’s totally deterred them, according to the numbers - the industry has dropped a little bit but the difference in numbers is quite marked,” she said.

“I think most of the miners have realised even if they do win the ballot, their licence won’t be granted for quite some time because of the additional environmental assessments which have to be presented to the department again in a new format.”

A review into the environmental factors must be finished before mining work can start.

Ms O’Brien says that means some miners may have to wait several months to begin prospecting.

“Hopefully the representative body can have a bit more success in trying to get these processes completed before the licences are granted,” she said.

Source: from ABC news stories

Finding Opals Easier

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

An Australian mining company says it is using Russian technology to make opals easier to find.

Midnight Opals says the technology can detect objects up to 500 metres underground compared with about 25 metres using previous methods.

Company official Anthony Melonas says it is in partnership with Russian scientists who have developed the geo-radar equipment.

“One of the main things that’s been holding opal back is the fact that opal’s a very hard gemstone to find and now that we can use this geo-radar, we can locate the opal a lot faster - that’s less harmful to the environment,” he said.

“We can get access to land a lot easier - instead of going on there with a drilling rig, we can go on there with this non-invasive technology and we can hit opal right on the pocket instead of drilling holes everywhere and this will go through the whole mining industry.”

Source: ABC News Australia

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