Over the last 40 years, The Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association (LRMA) has represented the Opal mining community in dealings with both government and non-government bodies over affairs affecting their economic and social welfare.
Based out of Lightning Ridge NSW, which is also the home of the famous Black Opal, the Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association Advisory service works tirelessly to combat government policies that make Opal mining in the area unsustainable. Established in 1974, the LRMA has successfully refuted and battled many laws and regulations that had previously made working and living in Lightning Ridge difficult.
Figure 1- Lightning Ridge
Administered by a President and board of seven Directors, who are elected annually by members, the Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association leadership team do not receive any fees or remuneration for performing their duties. With over 860 financial members to date, membership of the Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association is growing steadily. Members have access to monthly newsletters online, which detail news, events and updates about the mining community and the Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association’s latest work.
Although the Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association’s primary focus is to represent the people of Lightning Ridge, the independent panel also works together every Saturday morning to estimate the price of Opals recently mined in the area and the current market value of Black Opals. This is a huge help to local miners, as it helps them gauge the value of their Opals in comparison to the current black opal market conditions. Figure 2- Opals from the LRMA
The Lightning Ridge Miners Association is also part of the National Opal Miners Association (NOMA), an organisation which aims to promote the interests of Opal miners nation-wide. Essentially, the National Opal Miners Association represents the economic and social welfare that is common to all Opal miners across the country, while also generically promoting Opals domestically and internationally.
Every two years, the National Opal Miners Association holds a national Opal symposium, which is rotated between each State’s organisation.
Figure 3- the 9th National Opal Symposium committee: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Enni Brammall (Australian Opal Centre), Paul Dale (Division of Resources & Geoscience), Maxine O’Brien (LRMA), Sebastian Deisenberger (LRMA), Kelly Tishler (LRMA) and Ruth Benjamin-Thomas (BOD)
In 2018, the 9th National Opal Symposium was held at the Lightning Ridge for the fourth time. The three-day event was a huge success and brought miners, government and academics together nationwide. The Lightning Ridge Miners Association introduced geology and mechanical forums to the Symposium, along with a marketing workshop, which discussed the theme “Opal in a Changing World” and how the Australian Opal can be promoted more effectively. The National Opal Symposium was a fantastic opportunity to not only celebrate the Opal, but also acknowledge all of the fantastic work the Lightning Ridge Miner’s Association does for the town.
From assessing Black Opal market prices to lobbying government policies and even fixing broken pipes in town, the Lightning Ridge Miners Association is an integral and vital aspect of life in Lightning Ridge.
Figure 4- LRMA volunteers work to fix a broken pipe in town .
If you would like to support the Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association or learn more about their latest work, head to: www.lrma.com.au
* Images courtesy of Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association
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