ANOTHER YEAR APPROACHES THE END
2005 is drawing to an end and once again most of the year has been spent on working hard to get new areas opened up for prospecting and mining under suitable conditions.
The Minister has finally declared Opal Prospecting Area 4 and the first six Opal Prospecting Blocks are due for release next week. The LRMA are still negotiating the final conditions for prospecting, mining and access, so the Opal Prospecting Licences will probably not be granted until early in the New Year.
The Great Eastern Extension is still not open after nearly three years. We are waiting for the Department to put in place an Access Management Plan as the landholder would not agree to negotiate. Hopefully this is the last step to be put in place in what has been a long drawn out process.
Rehabilitation and environment has been a major focus for the year with the release of the Review of Environmental Factors for the Narran-Warrambool Reserve; opal fields being successfully rehabilitated; the proposed introduction of an environmental awareness course; and the introduction of a levy for future rehabilitation works. The Department of Primary Industries has agreed to the LRMA proposal to underwrite their members’ environmental responsibilities by putting in place a system whereby members can lodge their security bonds for prospecting and mining with the LRMA and these can remain in place and roll over onto new titles.
NSW Farmers continue their campaign of misinformation with yet another letter this week full of allegations about secret deals and commercial-in-confidence arrangements. Obviously there are going to be issues to do with mining and prospecting that the LRMA discusses with government that have no effect on the landholders. Mrs Foster did ask for a copy of the one and only Mines Operation Plan completed and this was for the Great Eastern Extension. She was informed that this is plan in negotiated between government and the miners, in consultation with the relevant landholder and it was not appropriate for government to give her a copy. She was advised to ask the relevant landholder for a copy.
In relation to the majority of prospecting and mining issues and in particular to OPA 4, all stakeholders, including NSW Farmers, have had numerous opportunities for input and have forwarded quite a number of submissions on a variety of subjects from legislative changes to environmental management.
All in all progress is being made and hopefully 2006 will see the release of more areas for opal prospecting and mining under conditions that are not too onerous.
Lightning Ridge Miners' Association Ltd
PO Box 177, Lightning Ridge NSW 2834
Ph: 02 6829 0427, Fax: 02 6829 0830
Mob: 0427 920 474
26 March 2006 04:44pm