Dangers Black Opal Mining Lightning Ridge 2006

Dangers Of Opal Mining 2006

Old forum records covering dangers and problems of Opal mining in Lightng Ridge Australia


Interesting stories abut life in the opal fields of australia

» Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:20 am I have been mining opals for about 11 years now.im 26 years old Its dangerous occupation and lot people dont realise we put our lives at risk everyday to find opals.

2 years ago i lost good mate ,he was only 18 and we were propping up to support the roof,this envolves timber supports and caps to stop roof from falling in. There was a big fault line going up at 45 degrees in the roof that slid out and buried him alive ,and took 5 hours to get him out. we were devastated.

It was 12 months before and someone else got kiled in the same claim.. it has good opal in it,but we sometimes pay with our lives. About 2 people each year die mining and so many bad mining accidents every day.

The SES,state emergency service,do great jop in helping people injuried,but mines are in the outback and takes long time to go out. every year i go to few funerals so next time you think opals getting expensive think of my mates by jackie »

Sun Feb 05, 2006 10:44 pm I really had no idea that opal mining was so dangerous so i will enjoy my opals and appreciate them more now. Are you making good living opal mining? be careful…

I will be careful jackie…3 years we found good pocket opal at Dead Bird,$40,000,but i had to share with 3 other guys and since than no good finds just cash enough for petrol and living expenses..I reckon for last 5 years i would not have made average wages ,but enjoy lifestyle and maybe oneday i wil lget lucky! by danielle »

Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:26 am hell, i’m 28 and the only thing i’ve done for eleven years is smoke… we appreciate your effort, and I am sorry for the toll it has taken on you already, you’ll find your pocket, yet. My curiosity is getting to me, though. Does your family have a cluster of “stick” houses (like a village/town) as well as outpost shelters? You obviously have internet access, but what do you live without? How isolated are you? Do you plan on doing this forever, if not, then what? hmm… what an incredible life… danielle by petersopal »

Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:23 pm Hi Danielle ,i also smoke…hand rolls.Yes its tough life here,like ur wild west days ,well no guns here planty kangaroos. lightning ridge is 1,000 kilometers inland and desert like arizona,but no cactus plants. people move here for lifestyle and opal mining ,always chance to hit big pocket.

today im in my dads house he has elecricity and satelite dish for internet as too hot to opalmine.hes at tuscon gem show now. my camp is few miles out town,i share with my girlfriend.its shack made of tin and timber ,we have small tank water and no electricity,but we have generator but its costing $100 to $150 per week in fuel so i want to move closer where i can get electricity.we had tv but it blew up when generator ran out fuel..but i dont enjoy tv anyway,so much rubish on.

Im hooked on opalmining for good now so dont want to do anything else. if it wasnt 44 degrees now i would be out mining now..my dad and uncle are all into opals so its in my blood i think.im going to cut some opal rough now,so thanks for asking danielle ..

Peter by Guest » Fri Feb 10, 2006 10:56 am Peter you have a very interesting lifestyle, can i ask if you dont have water what do you do for washing and toilet??? i just ahd to ask.. One day your turn will come to fing big parcel.. cherry by petersopal »

Sat Feb 11, 2006 2:37 am Hello Cherry ,water is scarce and valuable out here..we have artisean water but not on my camp.it comes up from deep bores but water is boiling hot.. most houses have this but water so hot ,boliing hot.even cold water is hot that you cant drink..thats why difficult just to have shower as too hot.Artesian water also stinks so we leave in cup for smell to go away overnight. my camp dosnt have artesian water just small container for collecting rain water..

maybe thats why pub sells so much beer ,its wet and cold… well my toilet is how can i say this ..on top of old mine shaft.. yes we have 30ft deep mine shaft near and have built tin room on top and use long…use your imagination..noones fallen in yet.. bye Peter by petersopal »

Wed Feb 15, 2006 11:42 pm I can tell yuo about opal mine next to my claim . A miner was killed riding his bucket up a few years ago and the mine hasnt been worked since. The shaft is about one meter wide by 30 meter deep.there is a bucket on a hoist that lifts the dirt up to the surface.each bucket is about a wheelburrow load.the dirt is lifted up and is dumped into a truck..when the truck is full we drive it to a wash site to clean the dirt out and look for the opals that are left. well he rode the bucket up to the top,which you shoudnt do.he was trying to save time from climbing out up the ladder..well we think his foot got stuck in the bucket as he went right to the top and was dumped out of the bucket into the top of the truck which was fully loaded.so when thrown out of the bucket he rolled off the truck and went down his air shaft ,which was next to the truck,and fell 30 meters to his death. So i little short cut cost him his life….peter by opalgraphics co »

Fri Feb 17, 2006 3:38 am Peter ,take it easy a the Ridge.i see its 45 degrees out there today,whats that 120 farenhite.? last year we worked at Koriot in summer ,but ill never do it again.got up to 50 degrees,and didnt find much opal. Everything you touched was hot,we could cook and egg on car bonnet. We had a new kubota generator 50 HP but it blew up. we sent it back and were giving another new one. The oil had liquidfied,so it was like water and didnt cool the engine down so it cracked the head. Go to the Pub. Adrian by petersopal »

Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:52 am Adrian.yes i had to visit pub to cool down!! Do you remember about 2 years ago the miner next to Phils mine at Koriot who was murdered on his site? I know they caught the guy who did it,and this week a runner at lighning ridge is offerring the rough left over on behalf of his wife.

There is 45 tonees .lower grade drums for $1,000 and better quality drums for $5,000. Do you know where it is? or if someone else knows? would be interesting material? Peter by opalgraphics co » Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:35 am No idea about that amount opal,havent heard anything.why would they still have it after few years? by petersopal » Tue Feb 28, 2006 10:09 pm Adrian ,that reminds me of another story. about 5-7 years ago there was husband and wife team mining black opals at lightning ridge. i heard the story that he had dug down to 50 foot level and was balloning out. the ladder that they used to go up and down the shaft was 6 ft to long ,so he decided to cut it off as he wasnt going to dig any deeper. he yelled to his wife to drop the angle grinder down so he could cut the feet off the ladder. well she didnt send it down in bucket or tied to rope and let it down gently,she just threw it down… It hit her husband on the head and that was the end of him. Is there a lesson in this? by luv gems »

Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:09 pm have you guys ever been envolved in syndicates for black opal mining? or mining for boulder opal? Say you have half dozen investors invest working capital for opalmining. Has it been done ? has anyone found opal this way? Im sure people would have money to invest on venture like this. by petersopal » Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:16 am I dont know of any syndicates to go opal mining. at lighning ridge there are lots partnerships formed to go opal mining ,but all partners work in mine. its is risky business . if joined group investors together i dont know how it would work in profit sharing etc.

With open cut mining it is very expensive. Bonds required by mines department are now over $100,000.so after you finished mining you have to bring site back to original condition so the hole has to be filled in and vegitation planted again to get your bond back. Cats go thru $1,000 per day in fuel.,ive heard plansfor open cut mining back at the cochran area ,and due start soon. by opalplus »

Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:12 am A few years ago a group guys i know operated a joint mining venture,similar to the idea of syndicates. They were trade guys so all were handy on a mining site . one was mechanic,electrician.and labourer. They pooled their money together and took 3 months off their normal jops. Their mine has seam opal,so they found bit.but didnt make wages.but they had fun and enjoyed the mateship. Every now and then i pump into oneof these guys on coast and they still talk with passion about how much fun it was. So maybe lesson here to have budget and time period,so no one get hurt financially. Sydicates could work ,maybe if you just hired the equipment ,had set budget for money and time. There is always some opal leases available that you can offer the miner royalty to work his claim. by mirkaba »

Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:36 pm I have been a miner off and on for 30 years. My first Love is rock…I mine gold here in the US. I am and always will be a small miner. I have lost several friends to mining accidents. It seems they were all working for the large companies. If I were in Australia I would be opal mining for sure. I started cutting opal in the late 70’s and sort of got away from it, sold all of my equipment (big mistake) and went looking for gold (got a little lucky on occaision). Whether prospecting or mining safty has always been a big issue with me. I have had several minor accidents, they can and will happen but remain relatively unscathed. A small miner should have the ‘luxury’ of exercising common sense and the ability to be aware of dangerous situations, i.e. undercut banks, loose back rock and widow makers in general. I am always on the lookout for opal up here in the NW US and have found quite a bit of common opal and some very thin seams of fire opal. I love this site and thank you all for the opportunity to throw my 2 cents into the mix…........Bob opalplus »

Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:02 pm Bob your 2 cents worth is worth heaps i reckon. commonsense is so important when mining. Wow 30 years in mining ,not many people would have done that,and enjoyed themselves. Would be interesting to see some of that opal from NW US.ive only seen some of that Idaho opal, i think it was from there .it was very watery in composition and was kept in water. Hope you get lucky every week Bob! by mirkaba »

Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:29 am Yep…That would be Spencer Idaho Opal, the mine is about 150 miles from here. I cut some back in the late 70’s that wasn’t too shabby. The good is a white opal with fair fire, you do not see any of the nicer stone any more. I hear the mine is for sale. I’ll see if I can put together a packet to send you…Bob by gemopal »

Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:28 pm Hi Peter i know your father well, i have sold my opal to him many times i live and work at the sheepyard opal field near grawin, i still scratch around in a claim with the jack hammer, the most dangerous thing over here is what we call false roof, this is where the actual sandstone roof is covered by a sheet of sand stone about 6 inches thick, when you start a drive and the air gets in it dries this layer out and it can separate from the real roof at anytime, right onto the top of your head, what you have to do is hit the roof with a iron bar every day and when you get a hollow sound you have to push your crowbar in between the false stuff and the real roof and bar it down, if you get lazy and dont do this it can end up in disaster, this is my first time on a forum i hope i haven’t bored you all to death. gemopal alias Mr Pickles by petersopal »

Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:16 pm Mr Pickles.my mate mined in your area and he didnt worry about working the roof.one day he came to work the mine and 1 meter roof had fallen down overnight in his ballroom..if he had been there he would have been squashed..it gave him fright.still tells story in the pub to travellers…. John benny was seen in his new 4 wheel drive ,jet black and shinning.He was caught in flash creek flood from last storm and was lucky to get out ok,so insurance gave him new car…Another couple who had just moved into the area drowned when their car was washed over bridge..This bridge was only covered by water less than meter deep ,but current was really strong and washed car over,locals knew not to travel but inexperience travellers easily get into trouble on these creeks as most year they are dry with no water at all.so when they flod water has lot force and speed. by petersopal »

Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:51 pm Last night i was in pub and meet miner,lets call him jack as he didnt want his name known. In the early 1990s Jack was mining in the 3 mile area. this area 3 mile is close to town of lightning ridge and had been worked hard for 50 years..so the area has old mines everywhere,as they found really good opal..it is rumoured that once below you can walk 5 miles from mine to mine as they all join up.

Anyway jack was telling me a miner showed him traces of opal from his claim Jack went to 3 mile and went down shaft ,,he only had shaft dug 30 feet down. so next day jack brings his equipment and they start balling out room.he noticed thyat the walls and floor were damp ,but paid little attention. next day he lowers all his equipment ,down,ladders, blowers ,compressor. auto digger. he was chekcing for traces opal and had screw driver..he dug out rock 3 inches wide and imediatley water started to squirt in.in 5 seconds a gush of water was flooding into the mine.he was up ladder and water was rising on his feet as he climbed ladder. they were lucky to get out alive,as if they had have been in ballroom they would have drowned. they bought in water pumps to drain mine but after 3 days they gave up a s it didnt affect the water level of the mine.

It became clear that water was in all other old mines and as their claim was at bottom of hill,there would be too much water to pump out so they abandoned claim and he lost his equipment. Jack said his generator was new ,so i asked why he had it down claim..and not on top..he didnt answer,as he says he felt bit dumb on what he did.. true story as 10 years later hes still embarrased,that he didnt check claim out better…. by opalgouger

» Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:49 am G’day. Where you mining? I have a claim at Andamooka. in South australias far north. Mostly open cut but when those slips go they can bury a excavator quicker than you can get outta the seat.. Had a guy killed at Coober Pedy last year. He was a thrid generation miner and experienced. I have been in two tunnel cave ins.. It gets pretty black once the lights go out.

Getting too old for it now. I am 68. I sold up last year. Now I am an opal buyer. But I got a lot of good stuff that I found over the years in my collection. I am selling wholesale in bulk all over the world at present. by opalplus »

Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:28 am Mate lights going out dosnt sound like fun at all,thats on edge of killing urself,,but good to hear 68 and going strong..opal mining keeps u fit hey.. My nephew now mines at lightning Ridge,not finding much this year… How many miners at Andamooka now? not many i hear.. by opalplus »

Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:34 pm Last night we had Phil and Denise from Opalgraphics around for dinner and they reminded me of the night i was bitten by deadly red back spider. We were at camp site Koriot.pictures up top of mining.we had toilet .roughly made but ok..So at around 8 pm i went and sat on loo and was bitten on the behind…i had torch and saw large red back spider on toilet seat that had just bitten me..female red back spiders are deadly but males are not..but i didnt know what sex it was. I rushed back to Phil and said ,hey look at my bum!!It had swollen up 50% already where i was bitten.no way he said,,but its serious,,im not looking he said..At this stage i had started to sweat,wasn’t fealing too good..10 minutes after i was bitten.

We discussed what to do.Nearest town 2-3 hours drive but than they would not have antidote anyway.we could ring for flying doctor service but they could not fly in till next morning anyway which would be too late for me if it was female spider. So did the next best thing opened bottle Bacardi rum and had few drinks,i was in big sweat but really lucky as it wasn’t female spider.Just shows how dangerous it can be when ur out in the bush.. So last night we drank some more bacardi rum…...and some more.. by lindafox »

Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:40 am I love hearing these stories. I would love to visit Australia, but I will never make it there, unless Australia! by mauibuck »

Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:17 am Linda and others with a dream. CAN’T never did anything. TRY kept on until he did. Australia is at the end of a long plane ride. All you need is to save and dream and do it. I don’t know your age, physical condition or motivation but all it takes is money and time. And then you travel in the lifestyle according to your budget ad motivation. You can backpack, ride busses or hitch rides and pick up odd jobs like picking fruits and berries. You can be a stockman (cowboy) and drive a mob (heard) of cattle or sheep

. On the other end of the scale you can hire (rent) an air-conditioned car, and stay in first class hotels along the coast or anything in between. For me, I bought an ancient camper van and went wherever the road took me. Stopped when and where I wanted and camped absolutely anywhere. In five months of traveling I stayed in a camper park one time only. (I had a mate their and registered the vehicle in his name. WAY easier than doing the registration and insurance as a foreigner.) However, I would recommend renting (hiring is their word) a campervan. It is my opinion that a single female could travel alone anywhere in Australia in complete safety. But the first thing you need is some study. I recommend the book WALKABOUT by Bill Bryson as a great starter. It is very readable, current, and covers traveling in many places in Australia.

It is a bit too civilized as an itinerary for me. Too many cities. I prefer the bush and small towns. Two things I learned traveling down under: life and traveling can be a lot of fun if you know where you are, where you are going, and how to get there. Unfortunately in both Adelaide and Melbourne, I was zero for three. From that came another epiphany for me. When entering a large city in Australia, the very first thing you should do is, LEAVE. And so I did. I completely skipped Sydney except for the tiny bit of tourist stuff I did on the first day of my arrival. Don’t regret it for a heartbeat. If at all possible, travel by train instead of plane. It cost the same as a plane but it is much more interesting. You see a lot more and have the opportunity to walk around and have wonderful conversations with the Aussies.

Virtually without exception I found them to be warm, open, generous, always kind and considerate, and even much more so in the small towns and in the bush. The main thing to remember is that Australia is the same size as the United States. You can’t do it in two weeks. A month is an absolute minimum for the first trip and then subsequent trips should be longer. Most of the tourist stuff is along the coast, particularly in Queensland. I skipped all that. But then, I live on Maui so it is samo, samo. I did do the Great Barrier Reef in a fly over in a tiny 4 seater plane. Remember that the seasons are reversed and it gets hotter as you go north. The bush is hotter than the coast.

The outback is only for sturdy, self reliant people with their head screwed on 100% straight and with lots of preparation and planning. If you can’t survive three days in the forest in the USA with no provisions, don’t go outback except in a professionally organized group tour.

There are lots of extremely deadly creatures in Oz. But it is very unlikely you will encounter any. In the U.S., jelly fish are a nuisance. In Oz, the box jelly fish are beyond extremely deadly. In the U.S. a small octopus is cute. In Oz, the tiny blue ring octopus is deadly. In the U.S. the black widow spider can cause some serious aggravation. In Oz, the funnel and red back spiders are deadly. In Florida, the alligators are interesting. In Oz, the saltwater crocodile is 100% deadly. But the roo are beyond counting, the wallaby platypus and koala are really cute and someplace the cockatiel are as numerous as pigeons. And there is much, much more. y opalplus »

Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:22 am Linda ,wheel and deal ,sell some opals to get to australia.we have accomodation on coast and at ridge so no expense for accomodation if u come down under. OK another story for you ,like bed time story.. My mate and i were in lightning ridge and we had to pick up 44 gallon drum fuel,as the roads were muddy and the normal truck couldnt deliver,and we needed to get the agitator going to wash out dirt and see if we found any opals..

Well when we rolled the 44 gallon drum onto ute,John had his index finger crush and lost about inch from top.Hes tough guy and he asked me for bandage,so i went and got one from shop and returned to see blood dripping out where his finger tip was,,Well john this bandage is no good,we will have to take u to hospital to get stiches..So i looked for his squashed finger and picked this pancake type thing,what mess,so isat down not fealing too good and guys from shop came out and could see i didnt look the best and were loking after me not John who hadl ost his finger….Than someone gave me clip behind ears as it wasnt me with sore finger ...Now John pokes his finger up to me in rude gesture when ever we meet ..just for fun.. by opalgraphics co »

Thu Apr 27, 2006 11:24 pm Ur spider story was interesting and reminds me of time we had king brown snake in our trench. we were working in Koriot and had a trench dug about 30 ft long by 6-8 feet deep deep .it was only 100 meters from our camp we started the excavator up and let it warmed up.Michael hoped into the trench to do some specking,3 minutes later he yelled,he was at end trench and a few feet from him was mulga snake about 6 foot long.Jim went and got shotgun and hoped into excavator bucket and blew snake away,,we had to kill it as it was close to our camp.king brown snakes are deadly and w ecall em mulga snakes as they are normally in bush .Michael dosnt like snakes.. by luv gems »

Thu Apr 27, 2006 11:55 pm Coober Pedy is a deceptive town. On first impressions, it looks like a raw, dusty, hard-working mining town that makes few concessions to beauty. But invest a little time and you’ll find there’s far more to it than first meets the eye. The reason for Coober Pedy’s existence is the opal. This town on the edge of South Australia’s Great Victoria Desert is the world’s major source of precious opal, and the town’s economy revolves around this shimmering, electrifying stone. Although Coober Pedy has a population of around 3,500, there is practically nothing that looks like a conventional house. The doors in the hillsides provide a clue. Most of the population lives underground, in comfortable dugout homes that remain pleasantly cool even when the mercury soars outside.

To get a feel for what opal mining was like in the early days, call in at the Old Timers Mine. In 1916 this was a working mine, yet it was forgotten until 1968, when an underground home extension broke through a tunnel wall, revealing the labyrinth that is now the museum. Visitors don a hard-hat and walk through the passageways, where the days of pick-and-shovel mining are brought vividly back to life, complete with seams of opal still in the walls. With its warm and welcoming ways, Coober Pedy can be surprisingly addictive. Half the population will tell you that they pulled in one day with the intention of filling up with petrol and having a quiet beer, and five years later they still haven’t got around to leaving. by opalplus »

Tue May 23, 2006 10:34 am Opalgouger ur right.lot of opal fields have only few guys left working them,and everday costs are now expensive,from petrol to repairs. i took few japanese buyers out last week,who hadnt been in lightning ridge for 5 years and they were amazed at how little opal there was to view,they didnt buy much but buy more when we visit them in japan. but they did remind me of our last trip with them to lr. that was 5 years ago ,they hired private plane from coast to lr,cost around $2,000 than, so we were at airport when storm came up early in morning ,so we had few teas and cofees.

plane was 6 seater single prop. so we took off in hurry.after storm passed and i didnt go to toilet.. we flew for hour than had another storm ahead of us,so we had to fly around it,it was really rough in the plane,than another storm came and pilot wanted to return..at this stage i was busting to go to toliet..so he decided to fly to another airport,and hour away..plane was going up and down side ways ,really rough.. at this satge i was sweating and red in face and in agony for leak.. so this japanese buyer gave me his sandwich that was in plastic bag. so i urinated into the bag .. oh such pleasure from act mother nature. i filled the bag up ,so happy than pressed the seals together and the bag burst. everyone lifted their feet.. the japanese still tell that story quiet often about me,and i prefer to forget ,but they reminded me.. lesson ,dont drink and fly in small plane ,,obvious reason opalplus »

Wed May 24, 2006 5:20 am Reading new book ,just out this week by Len cram titled A Journey With Colour..South australia 1840-2005. will post some of his interesting stories…His book is in colour and 367 pages top quaility paper so pictures are good.here are some short stories he has in book Story From coober Pedy Times 14th feb 1996 At about 3.30 am,Tuesday 6th Feb,two police cars were blown up outside the Desrt cave Hotel .The vehicles from the traffic escort section were parked near the main entrance of the desert cave .An explosive devise was detonated causing approx $20,000 damage to the vehicles,and two windows of the hotel.no injurie3s were sustained as a result of the blast.Enquires were conducted by coober Pedy CIB major task force and Central Crime Scene

.A 50 year old unemployed motor mehanic was charged with 3 counts of arson Massive Explosion, Coober Pedy Times, 16 June 1993. It was a scene reminiscent of deserted battlefield, twisted fingers of steel pointing skywards. Almost unrecognisable among the wreckage lay the remains of $25 000 worth of opal mining machinery. The blower was recognised y tis distinctive hopper, almost at right angles to where it should be, but the generator truck was simply a mangled mess of steal.

The power of the blast that destroyed them must have been awesome; debris was recovered as far afield as 220 metres from its source. The destroyed equipment was owned in partnership by Sammy Wong and Danny Stefanovic and once can only wonder what might have gone through their minds when the coming upon this scene of utter devastation.

The incident occurred on Tuesday night or early morning of 8 / 9 June and at this stage the police is not sure of any definite motive for this act of sabotage, but being Coober Pedy, rumours are rife. Any persons having any information, which may be of assistance to the police, are urged to come forward now and disclose what they know. All information will be treated confidently.

There has been no advice so far on just what kind of explosive material was used, or how much, obviously a large amount. Machinery on adjoining claims in Dead Horse Gully were mostly untouched, which is rather amazing given the force of the blast and subsequent scattering of shrapnel over a large area. Police investigators were flown in to asses the damage and possible action to follow. The incident is of grave concern and perhaps right now is the time to restrict almost unlimited access to potentially life threatening explosives. Opal Miner Killed, the advertiser, 22 September 2004. A second – generation opal miner, Tom Kyrtzaliotis, was crushed to death in a freak accident in his mine when an overhanging cliff collapsed on the excavator he was operating at Coober Pedy. The rescue crews were alerted when Mr. Kyrtzaliotis, Adelaide Business partner, Arthur Pandeli, failed to get an answer from his mobile phone. It was too late when they arrived. He was the only son of Nakos Kyrtzaliotis, who came to Australia from a village near Thessalonika, in the north of Greece, in 1958.

Tom was the oldest of three children and was only one week old when the family arrived at Coober Pedy. Friends yesterday described him as a man of passion and conviction, full of life and energy and always ready to help others. Yanni Athanasiadis, senior member of the town’s Greek business community, said many people were in tears at a gathering yesterday. by opalplus »

Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:30 am Two more stories ,The Opal Strike and Painted Lady story Opal Strike, the Advertiser, 24 February 2005. Coober Pedy miner john Dunstan has sparked an opal rush on a discussed field in the Woomera Restricted Area. Rare painted ladies and much sought – after black opals are among his finds at Allan Rise, 50 kilometres south of Coober Pedy. His discoveries in the past few months have bought a flood of mines to the field. He said he was of the opinion that this field would produce opal worth many millions of dollars. “It will be like a gold rush, we have already seen 100 claims pegged and will see a lot more in the future”. He found two significant parcels of black opal there just before Christmas and two beautiful big painted ladies in the past two weeks. The opal field, which has been destroyed for most of the past 35 years, has been brought to life by his discoveries. He said, “It is the most exciting discovery at Coober Pedy in the past 15years.

There are nine mine drills, two tunnelling machines, two bulldozers, and three excavators here and a heap more will be coming in the next few weeks. Some have already found good traces and I believe that one if the mining companies will find a multimillion –dollar claim. It was a miner in the 1970’s with only a pick and shovel that rediscovered Allan Rise when he found a patch of opal worth $200 000, and it has virtually been untouched since.” Coober Pedy Mayor, Steve Baines, said it was the best thing to happen to the town for a long time.

“Years ago we had 200 to 300 miners working here everyday, but now we are lucky to have 30 or 40 and we are hoping that this will reinvigorate the industry,” he said. The Northern Regional Development Board’s Ross Sawers said the discoveries were vitally important for the town, raising enthusiasm in mining and helping the economy. Mr Dunstan was working his excavator when he found the painted ladies. He said, “I could see this beautiful stone looking up at me from the excavator bucket. We could easily have missed it and the other half, which we fond later. We had no idea just how beautiful they were until we brought them home and cleaned them up.” Painted lady, the Advertiser, 16 July 2005. A large rare opal is out of hiding, on display and up for sale at Coober Pedy.

The painted Lady worth about $65 000 was originally found in 1983. It was displayed during the America’s Cup celebrations in Fremantle. Western Australia, the same year but has since remained in a secret location until now. It’s understood that the rare 80kg to 100kg specimen has spent more then 20 years in the underground dugout of the miner who discovered it.

Trevor berry of the Old Timers Mine and Museum has been asked to sell it on behalf of the owner, who doesn’t want his identity revealed. Mr. Berry said the painted Lady was the largest of its type ever found in Coober Pedy. “It’s wonderful to have this amazing Painted Lady at the Old Timers Mine and Museum and it’s not just the tourist who are amazed y its size,” he said. “The locals are seeing it for the first time and are excited too. To have such an impressive opal on display and for the sale at the museum is not only great for business, but it’s an excellent boom for the town.” So far he has not received any serious offers, but he was sure it would be sold soon. Tourism Minister Jane Lomax – Smith said,

“The Painted Lady is a reminder to everyone of what an exciting town that Coober Pedy is. Coober Pedy producers over 80% of the world’s opal, so it’s not surprising that such a rare piece as the Painted Lady is now on show at the museum.” The giant gem is in three pieces and received its name because of its description – when the quartzite rock, which it’s on, is broken, it looks like an artist has painted it there. Earlier this year the discovery of two parcels of black opal and Painted ladies by John Dunstan at Coober Pedy which are believed to be worth many thousands of dollars caused a flurry of excitement by opalplus »

Wed Jul 05, 2006 8:01 am The other night ,we had group of opal wholesalers around for BBQ with few beers, We started to talk about experiences we have all had selling opals and three interesting stories came out that night. So here are those stories all factual except names have been changed of the wholesaler. The first wholesaler ,lets call him Bill went to Coober Pedy on buying trip and bought 100 kilos of rough opal. he was booked on plane, only 12 seater , back to Adelaide ,but he was the last passenger on and plane was over weight ,so he had to leave one bag behind .

He rang Hotel to look after his bag and keep it in a secure place. Well next month he was back in town and asked hotel for his bag, and they told him it was in the backpacker’s hostel in unlocked luggage room. He nearly fainted, but sure enough it was there. Untouched ,he was very lucky.. Another Opal wholesaler ,lets call him Jim had also been on opal buying trip years earlier to Coober Pedy and had bought a large parcel also…he joked with Bill how he drives from Adelaide to CP in hire car because weight is a problem with the plane.

So he flew Qantas from Adelaide to Sydney ,and as he was member Qantas club his luggage comes off first. so he thought he was first off and waiting at luggage area but his bag never arrived ,so he checked with staff and they said maybe next flight. Jim started to panic ,This bag contained $50,000 parcel rough opal. He was really worried and after 2 hour wait there were no more planes ,service department said they will contact him ..,so he had to go home but ,line up for the Taxi Q was very long at the airport due to storm so as he walked along he noticed a suit case that looked like his…He looked closer and it was his…Holding onto this case was a business man that had been drinking at hotel all day and could hardly stand, Jim said it was his ,and the Business man said no worries mate you can have it…he didn’t notice how heavy it was compared to his as the colour was the same.

. Jim also was lucky Another Opal wholesaler topped the night off with his story. lets call him Don. Don was on selling trip to New Zealand and was down Queenstown with about $400,000 of opal jewellery. Dons carry bag weighs about 20 kilos so when he boards a plane they only allow 7 kilos so he carries it on as if it is light. Don boarded a small 24 seater plane and used his left hand to throw his bag in compartment above him and trying to make it look easy.

Than he got striking pain in his chest and thought he was having a heart attack. The plane had already taken off and he alerted the hostess, about his pain, as plane trip was hour long they booked for doctor to meet him at the airport when he arrives. So Don gets his bag on his lap and wraps the handle around his arms, so if he had another heart attack and dies he would stiffen and no would one be able to take the bag away as rigamortis would have settled in and his body would be stiff and no one could take his bag off him. So the plane landed, ambulance had doctor on board and checked him out ..Don had only pulled his chest muscle when he placed the bag above his head…We all joked about Don but deep inside we knew how he must have felt… by collector11 »

Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:49 am Wholesale business for opals in Australia must be different.most folks sell at shows wholesale in usa . You guys have to be careful carrying all that stock around with you as bet its hard to replace. We have saying to be STREET WISE look over ur shoulder etc. i have friend in states who travels wholesale in old car and when he goes home he drives in figure 8 or around block to see if anyone is following him.and when he gets home he has one of those mirrors on handle that he can check under the car for any bugs..and thats eloectronic bugs, as he knows a guy who was followed home with bug on his car and robbed in his carage by south americans..you have to be careful guys with all that precious opals… by mauibuck »

Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:11 am Antwerp, Belgium has been one of the diamond cutting centers of the world for 560 years. The annual turnover of diamonds is $39 BILLION a year. Diamonds are traded by the dealers, virtually all of whom are Hasidic Jews, at the Diamond Bourse or exchange. These are the guys in the flat brim black hats with full beards or braided pony tails on each side of their heads.

Any one of them might have a million dolors worth of diamonds in his pocket at any moment. At the exchange, morals and ethics are absolute. Diamonds are carried in pieces of folded paper and are exchanged like trading cards. If one of the members goes home and accidentally leaves a folded piece of paper on the table with hundreds of thousands of dollars of diamonds in it, the paper is tacked on the bulletin board where he can retrieve it at his leisure next time he visits.

Absolutely NOBODY will take it. That’s pretty amazing to those of us who are less trusting. by opalplus » Mon Aug 07, 2006 4:53 am Last month ,july 2006 an opal wholesaler was on his way to usa to sell a unique opal shell formation..this speciman was approx 18 inches by 18 inches and had over 100 shells embedded naturally and was fragile. so he hand carried this specimen weighing 12 kilos on as his hand carry. he placed it in locker above his seat.. he had good sleep and remembers hitting a violent storm and plane was moving up and down ,but he slept. but when he arrived in LA he opened the bag to see his specimen broken into 100 pieces. what a disaster..it took him 12 hours to glue back together and was sold for half price.mmmmm by opalplus »

Sun Aug 13, 2006 6:58 am Opal wholesalers have been discussing the latest security measures now to go to USA ,and that is to carry see thru bag with ur passport and wallet.. Nobody in their right mind would send valuable opal in their suitcase..its standard procedure to carry the opals on board with you,and even have your pockets full of the opals,but it looks like that is history now,and u have to send by fedex or other frieght companies But that is expensive to insure.

i dont think you can get insurance policy to cover say half million dollars of opals sent in ur suitcase? Bag handles would have field day .lol It will create big problems for sending opals to USA Miners are already discussing about Tuscon this year,if you cant carry good with you its best not going .adding extra $20,000 insuranc eon top of your trip is too much will be interesting to see what happens over next few months about how to take valuables to USA… by sedaopals »

Wed Sep 20, 2006 10:19 am Mining opals is one of the safest forms of mining as you dont go down great depths.Most safety is common sense and respect for the equipment you have.The average depth is 30 to 80 feet-below is what a 80 foot hole looks like from the bottom.The main thing to be aware of is falling rocks and also lowering equipment down.So it is a golden rule to keep your hat on.

The next photo shows a slide which is unstable-this may collapse on you and the weight can do a lot of damage.The miner will soon remove this or support it with timber.The 3 rd photo shows what a ball room is like-notice the timber props and all the wiring-you always have to be careful.The opal is transported to a dam where it is washed.Even the ramp leading up has had trucks roll off it.The last photo shows the back of the dam where all the mud runs too. So i hope you appreciate all the risk and sweat that goes in to this beautiful stone by opalplus »

Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:53 pm Our best wishes are with Michael from opalgraphics who is in Winton sick as a dog.. He was bitten by Tick on an old mining claim an didint know it. Phill had to call in the Flying Doctor service.so plane arrived in few hours and flew him to hospital,,its great service for people living in the outback and this service save smany live seach year…

They thought he had Mennigigoccal but it was bush typhoid,,but hes still sick as dog…Best wishes for all to Michael… by opalplus » Mon Oct 02, 2006 7:15 am This story is from Sunday Mail (SA) Opal miner dies in 30m shaft fall By Kate Kyriacou October 01, 2006 AN opal miner died after falling down a 30m shaft near Coober Pedy yesterday. The 55-year-old Pooraka man fell to his death at an opal field 7km from the mining town. It is understood a piece of equipment he was using failed. A police spokeswoman said his death was not being treated as suspicious. “(The man) died at the site as a result of injuries he received during the accident,” she said. His death comes just six weeks after a 50-year-old Coober Pedy woman fell more than 30m to her death at another mine shaft. State Emergency Services spokeswoman Judith Bleechmore said the man died at the Zorba opal field.

“We had 12 volunteers go in to perform a basic rescue - which means we didn’t need to bring in any heavy machinery,” she said. “The shaft was about 90 feet deep and six feet wide. We were able to use a winching process to go down from above.” The opal fields surrounding Coober Pedy are pitted with an estimated one million drill holes and mine shafts - many abandoned and difficult to spot. Police will prepare a report for the coroner and SafeWork SA has been notified. Until six weeks ago, the last mining death in the Coober Pedy was in 2004 by daveczar »

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:26 am Stories like that definately make a person appreciate even more the beauty of this wondrous gemstone gents like this risk their lives to bring to us every day. by rockhoundman » Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:17 pm I just read all these threads .. i had no idea opal mining so hard and dangerous sounds like so much effort to find and mine this gem,,than keep it from ratters..like wild west years ago..but i gotta visit n see these opalfields by erica » Tue Nov 07, 2006 1:54 pm I’ve just recently become interested in Opals and have been reading all the posts here the last few days or so and i do have to say the ones on Opal mining are my favorite to read. I have great respect for people that risk their own personal safety for things they are passionate about. by opalplus »

Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:13 pm your gateway to ABC North West Qld More About ABC North West QueenslandSearch ABC North West ABC North West Qld | Local News | Story Search fails to find opal miner Tuesday, 21 November 2006. 13:00 (AEDT)Tuesday, 21 November 2006. 12:00 (ACST)Tuesday, 21 November 2006. 12:00 (AEST)Tuesday, 21 November 2006. 13:00 (ACDT)Tuesday, 21 November 2006. 10:00 (AWST) A two-day search in remote bushland in western Queensland has failed to find any trace of a missing opal miner. Police and State Emergency Service volunteers have searched an area west of Winton looking for local man Paul Laba, who has not been seen for a year.

Acting Inspector Gary Brayley says police will now finalise some inter-state enquiries, before reporting to the coroner. “I guess we can’t rule out any possibility, but there’s nothing that we’ve identified at this point of time that would suggest any foul play, so it’s probably a case that he’s walked off and, well, we don’t know what’s happened after that, but he certainly hasn’t made it back to his camp or the township of Winton,” he said


Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:52 am Yeah i just heard on radio that he was found,he got disorientated,easy to happen in bush as hard to get bearrings in flat country. just loose track n ur goner in bush. I have seen tourists do silly things once meet guy in VW small car wiht his wife n 2 kids ,kids both under 5 i think he drove 500 k north winton in Jan visiting outback,temp was so hot,3 hours with out water and kids would die,,he said his VW was super car and no worries ,he had only one days supply of water n food ,,so crazy to risk ur family. Another time in Winton in sept meet japanese couple just married in early 20s and his car was a wreck ,could buy for few hundred dollars and he wanted to drive to the opal mines ,evry one tried to talk him out of it but he would not listern and drove off early one morning..

that night he was back in town ,he had hit a kangaroo and smashed his car up ,thye were not hurt and lucky drover was heading into town n took them back. These tourists were lucky,summer heat is a killer,thats why im not working today!!! DANGERS OPAL MINING 2007 opal mining in Mexico,opal mines at magdalena jalsico y jlr44usa » Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:10 am petersopal wrote:I have been mining opals for about 11 years now.im 26 years old Its dangerous occupation and lot people dont realise we put our lives at risk everyday to find opals. 2 years ago i lost good mate ,he was only 18 and we were propping up to support the roof,this envolves timber supports and caps to stop roof from falling in.

There was a big fault line going up at 45 degrees in the roof that slid out and buried him alive ,and took 5 hours to get him out. we were devastated. It was 12 months before and someone else got kiled in the same claim.. it has good opal in it,but we sometimes pay with our lives. About 2 people each year die mining and so many bad mining accidents every day. The SES,state emergency service,do great jop in helping people injuried,but mines are in the outback and takes long time to go out. every year i go to few funerals so next time you think opals getting expensive think of my mates Peter hi my name is Jim i live in Idaho I havent had the pleasure of meeting you but you sound like a very nice person i hope to do some buying from in the near futher. I have already done some buying from your Dad&Mom they sure seem like they are nice folks. Ps please you all keep all those storys comeing in. Best Regards Jim. y mick »

Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:35 am The biggest danger opal mining in the 70s when I was last anywhere near an opal mine was” A. Being thrown down a shaft for being a crook. B. Blowing yourself up with unstable gelly. C. Being shot by the copper that had 2 x 45s on his belt. I think the copper no longer has 2 x 45s,

I think the other two risks are alive and well. by jackie » Sun Feb 25, 2007 2:23 am Guys i love your opals but please consider your health. Mining accidents do happen and i understand that But if you work in dusty places or cutting opals you must consider your health n lungs Just wear mask and dont care what ur friends think Just do it its called quality of life! jackie by Queenie » Sun Feb 25, 2007 7:09 am Jackie dear heart, you sound a bit like me, you turn into people’s mam at the drop of a hat. I can see where you’re coming from, solid opal lungs, not a good accessory. Coming from what was largely a coal mining community I should imagine the dangers are quite similar and a lot of health problems are just now being attributed to having been a miner

. My dad is as deaf as the proverbial pittlepot (pot that one pees in), has chest problems and little feeling in his hands from using the machinery. He started mining at 15 and gave it up at 30 to become a driving instructor as he thought it was safer! This is why at the age of 41 I still cannot drive. But on a serious note, one of my dad’s best mates was killed down the pit when a roof just fell in on him, he was just a young man with a wife and 2 kids.

The lads who stayed down the pit longer than my dad did have some dreadful health problems now. It is all very scary s**t. So listen to Auntie Jackie, ear defenders and dust masks, you may feel like a proper tit but you will be able to both hear and breathe later in life. Trust me, when you can’t you really miss it! by jackie » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:17 pm Hi Queenie,We all have different attitudes now compared to years ago.health n Lifestyle important,why die early for few more stones!!! I saw Blood diamonds last night and upset me..movie says 15% of Diamonds from conflict areas in Africa,movie showed the misery it causes in local population..Familys ripped apart…

Than the company they mentioned is clearly De Beers Im happy i enjoy opals not Diamonds by crazy opal »

Sat Apr 07, 2007 7:07 am petersopal wrote:Adrian ,that reminds me of another story. about 5-7 years ago there was husband and wife team mining black opals at lightning ridge. i heard the story that he had dug down to 50 foot level and was balloning out. the ladder that they used to go up and down the shaft was 6 ft to long ,so he decided to cut it off as he wasnt going to dig any deeper. he yelled to his wife to drop the angle grinder down so he could cut the feet off the ladder. well she didnt send it down in bucket or tied to rope and let it down gently,she just threw it down… It hit her husband on the head and that was the end of him. Is there a lesson in this? **************************** Correction

: The wife had sent a big heavy grinder in a plastic bucket. The grinder being top heavy it touched the ladders which buckled, thus tipping over. The grinder fell out and killed her poor hubby. I blame the miner, not the poor woman, he should have climbed up & lowered the grinder down the shaft. Stupidity causes accidents. Cheers Stephen Aracic (The man with the opal hat) who lives at the Ridge and knows the story. Sorry about that Peter! y opalplus »

Tue May 08, 2007 9:41 pm My mate Phil called me last night,he was happy to be back in Winton,he told me following story the day before he had to tow huge generator to a opal mine 300 kilomteres from Winton ,,so its really rough desert n hot. well 200 ks out the axel broke on the trailer as generator was to heavy. so he left trailer behind and drove to mine.. when he got to mine there was plague of flies ,so many that flies even flew behind his glasses and into his shirt he thinks the flies disoriented him as he drove off back to Winton to arrange truck for generator Well belive it or not he got lost,and hes bush man and been in this area for years he drove 140 kilomters completly lost and theres no places to get reference where u are as desert all looks same. lucky he found binoculars behind the seat and climbed on top of his 4 wheek drive and saw relay station post so he got his bearings. he made it back into town with less than 20 litres of fuel in his 4 wheel drive. hes learnt valuable leason and today is getting 2 way radio installed and water tank installed into his vehicle He already has 2 huge fuel tanks on his vehicles. If it was hot he could have been in big trouble Good lesson learnt for bush man! by mauibuck »

Tue May 08, 2007 10:44 pm An incredible story! And exactly the reason I decided to NOT go outback in my highly unreliable camper van….and I had 2 radios. However, without the experience and training, NO WAY. I ran with the bulls in Pamplona and I had a trick knee with torn cartilage at the time but going outback alone, nope. I’m not stupid. OK, maybe a little stupid. What about GPS? Global positioning satellite info?


Carry this little device and it will tell you exactly where you are with a maximum error of 15 meters. Some are down to under $100. Seems like a real life saving tool for outback. Mauibuck by kenhorse » Thu May 31, 2007 6:35 am i have been in to opal’s for only 6 months and did not realize the things you guys go through heat no water cave in’s and damn little money. i think you are a little crazy, but i love what you make. as said about a million times in this post god watch over you and you will be in my prayers ..ken by CPBlackOpal »

Thu May 31, 2007 3:27 pm I know how you feel mate. A few years ago a good friend of mine was killed in an open cut and i was out there helping the mines rescue squad dig him out. I couldnt recognise him he was squashed. This got me thinking about opal mining and how little we make from it. Australian opal is way to cheap. by opalplus » Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:48 pm I dont think lot buyers of opal realise how little the average opal miners make from opal mining It is life style question as many miners enjoy the outback lifestyle but i think around 90% dont make good income. but its that dream of finding a mother load parcel of good opal that keeps everyone going.

Also cost of compliance for leases has risen dramatically on top of expensive fuel costs as example to open cut you need $250,000 deposit now before you open cut,this is to ensure you fill the hole in after finished mining. this summer a mate of mine who was living on camp.which is like nice tin roofed house,stayed over summer with wife but so hot that it cost $350 per week to run generator to keep cool,as there is no electricity to most camps.tough lifestyle..if you touched car you easirly burnt your hand and yes you can cook an egg on car bonnet,so get the picrture how hot that is! so enjoy our opals that little bit more and pay that little bit more also! I found these pictures taken few years ago at Koroit Queensland, they were on the old forum so I re listed them again, as its been over2 years since I was out there mining with Michael sone from opal graphics.. Since than I have been 7 days working on OpalAuctions and last July did tour of the opal fields in Queensland from Quilpie, Winton, and Yowah n Koroit.

Over month we dug some trenches and went specking in these trenches to see if any nuggets or follow seams ironstone pattern looking for those colours. We did find some bright pin fire greens so bright when we split rocks open. You can see how labour intensive it is to crack open these nobbies to see if any colour inside. I think I found one in every 100 pieces rock I hammered… Than I wish I hadn’t hammered that rock so hard when it breaks open and displays gem colours in several pieces. Michael works bloody hard, its hot dry dusty work. his camp is well set up with gas fridge ,as you need bloody cols drink after working every day ,, After month I reckon my right arm was twice as strong as my left from cracking open these rocks. hope Michael has really good year this year and not so many machinery breakdowns., Wayne

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