Australian opals are some of the most prized gemstones in the world. What’s more, they come from locations across Australia. With so many opals in the mix, you’d think they’d be in supply year-round, right?
Like crops and seasonal farming, opals have a season, too! So, how long is the Australian opal season?
Yep! And it usually lasts about three months. Given the location of Australia, opal mining season is March 1 through the end of June.
Opal mining season in Australia is three months long because the time frame correlates with the season. Opals in Australia are in season during summertime. Since the mining season starts when springtime ends, opal mining in Australia lasts for the duration of an Australian summer.
The opal mining season is a time of year during which opals are in abundance. In Australia, this time of year coincides with summer. When the temperatures have registered as being a piping 113°F. This means that for weeks back-to-back, the opal mining season is in full swing.
Are you wondering, “Where is opal mined in Australia?” Well, we have the answers for you! The best place to mine for opal in Australia is Lightning Ridge, and you can expect to find opals near Coober Pedy as well. But those aren’t the only areas where opals exist. They come from all over, from Queensland to South Australia.
There is an opal mining season in Australia because opal is not available for mining at all times of the year. Mining opal is a seasonal adventure, and as we mentioned, the summer is your best bet when it comes to opals Australia.
Another reason for the opal mining season in Australia is the fact that some parts of the continent are subject to natural obstacles during certain parts of the year. For example, Queensland is entirely off-limits for opal mining during the majority of the summer months since monsoons flood the region.
This annual occasion makes Queensland chock full of unsuitable conditions for mining when you consider the high heats as well. The opal fields of Australia all happen to be located in sub-tropical regions of the continent. This means that warm weather will always affect the opal mining season.
Back in the old days, mining was not an expensive trade or pastime. Nowadays, however, this fact is nothing more than a mere illusion. In today's day and age, the cost of mining, in general, has skyrocketed, but the cost to mine opal has reached an unbelievable price.
Before, mining opal cost a flat fee of $20, and that's all you had to pay to roam the area with a shovel in search of opal. Today, if you want to mine in general, you’ll have to put down a deposit of $250,000 at a bare minimum.
And that price point is only applicable for open-cut mines. If you want to mine specifically for opal, then you would find yourself having to pay closer to $500,000.
Opal mines are a steep investment, which is why many people join together and fund the mining experience as a group. This makes mining for opal more of a group activity rather than mining for opal solo. On top of the deposit required to enter into an opal mine, miners are subject to a specific regulation that applies to all mining activities involving opal.
This regulation states that all miners have to enroll in and pass an opal mining course. The three main ideas that this course focuses on are as follows:
After completing the opal mining course, miners then have to apply for an opal mining claim. This comes directly from the Department of Minerals, and it informs miners of the expectations they must adhere to mine for opal in Australia.
As you might expect, obtaining the opal mining claim from the Department of Minerals is an additional cost. Previously, the claim was closer to $435. But those days are long gone. Now, an Australian mining claim will cost around $1230. Yikes!
As you’ve gathered, mining in Australia is an incredibly costly hobby or trade, especially if you’re not an Australian citizen. This is especially true if you are on the lookout for an opal mine that is available for purchase. It’s far easier to pay to mine in someone else's opal mine than to apply to purchase your own mine.
Even if you have the funds to own an opal mine, the odds of actually having claim over the entire mine are slim to none. It’s far more likely to end up buying a percentage of the opal mine, rather than the entire mine. This way, multiple people can own a respective percentage of the mine, and as an opal mine shared owner, you can charge other miners to mine for opal in your share of the mine!
It takes opal approximately 5-6 million years for the opal to form. And this timeframe only applies to roughly one centimeter of opal, so just imagine how long it would take for an entire mine to fill with opal! Australia is a place with more opal than you could imagine.
That’s because over 500 million years ago, Australia was predominantly covered by seawater and the water particles contained silica, an essential ingredient in the formation of opal. The silica was located in various forms of sediment, and over time, it filled the spaces between all of the rocks in Australia, creating opals upon opals all around the country.
With a relatively short opal mining season and the steep investment costs to mine in Australia, you’d think Australia wouldn’t be the leading source of opal worldwide. However, it’s abundance is just another one of the magical features of Australian opal!
Browse our extensive collection of beautiful Australian opals online!
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