The Lightning Ridge Miners Association is imploring the NSW Government to “take urgent action” to ensure the survival of Lightning Ridge’s black opal industry and Lightning Ridge”.
In an online petition addressed to NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, NSW resources and energy minister Chris Hartcher and eight other politicians, the Association says the district will lose everything if the government does not resolve outstanding issues such as “compensation for landholders, access, reintroduction of valuable infrastructure levies and reinstatement of affordable security deposits” or worse, introduces “any form of a sunset clause on opal mining”.
LRMA secretary/manager Maxine O’Brien said 97 per cent of the world’s black opal is found in Lightning Ridge and represents a small but important export for Australia.
“Government inaction is forcing the industry to remain in limbo,” she said.
“Miners have the right to explore and mine for opal and these rights are severely curtailed at present and the future is unclear.
“The uncertainty of whether the levies paid by miners will be available to establish and maintain mining tracks, maintain centralised rehabilitation stock piles and undertake advanced rehabilitation and the costs of security deposits and compensation is impacting the industry.
“The government is also considering a sunset clause on opal mining, which has caused angst and would stymie opal prospecting and mining and eventually lead to the death of the industry.
O’Brien said the NSW government’s current lack of action would impact not only on Lightning Ridge but also “opal wholesalers, jewellery manufacturers, retailers and lovers of opal all over the world who are dependent on a secure supply”.