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Lrma News 13 September 2005
It is with some concern that I read the letter you published from Louise
Crites-Foster last week. That she wishes to air publicly comments from a private meeting requested by the LRMA essentially to meet the new President of the NSW Graziers Association is of great concern, however, that pales into insignificance when compared her comments "not willing to behave as professionals and "check their egos at the door" and "negotiate in good faith".

This I find offensive as her fellow grazier representative on the Lightning Ridge Mining Board did every thing for a decade to hold up OPA 4 whilst negotiating with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to purchase East Mullane and then smiled as he resigned from the Mining Board.

Forget about the ego's bit I am too old and this is not an issue but not
"behaving as professionals" I find slanderous. The LRMA has a full time
staff and Board which manages significant assets and has prepared responses to various wardens' inquiries, environmental reports and deals with several government departments none of which I am aware have had any cause to question any lack of professional behaviour by the LRMA staff or Board members. I find the accusation a personal affront.

There has been perennial bleating for the last year or more by Louise Crites Foster concerning:-
"detrimental impact on aboriginal sites"
"DMR is "toothless tiger" either unable or unwilling to prosecute those
avoiding rehabilitation and environmental responsibilities"
"farmer's wanted insurances mined areas would be properly rehabilitated"
"mining has turned the land into a lunar landscape no grasses no vegetation
as "new mine site that will cover 160,000 hectares of farming land"
"we think opal mining is like a licence to squat"
"Sensitive aspects such as air, dust, noise, sediment run-off water use and discharge, flora, fauna, Aboriginal, or archaeological sites have not been considered "

These and other comments have been published throughout NSW and interstate. None of them are accurate.

Miner's are not allowed to mine or explore near aboriginal sites the LRMA in fact consult with the local aboriginal land council and National Parks to exclude areas of cultural significance.

The Dept of Primary Industry has the appropriate powers to prosecute people who avoid their environmental responsibilities ("not toothless") and on less than 5% of claims do people walk away from their responsibilities (R. W. Corkery).

"Insurance", the LRMA has a proposal currently considered by Department to underwrite rehabilitation responsibilities of its members.

"Lunar landscape and 160,000 hectares of farming land" mining cannot take place on agricultural (i.e. farming land) without landholder permission, most of the mining occurs on the red ridges which the Northern Flood Plains Regional Planning Committee report "Vegetation Communities of the Northern Floodplains Western NSW" Book 1 (2004) described as "Red Earths (Red Kandosols)" whose capability "for agricultural development is generally low.
Soils are of low fertility and high erodibility and often acid with low
nutrient and water retention capabilities".

Mining does not take place over 160,00 hectares in fact of the previously released exploration areas OPA's 1, 2, 3 of the potential opal ridge country only 5% is actually covered by mining tenements. The total area of OPA 4 includes large areas of black soil that are rarely of interest to miners except very close to the margins of the red ridges where an opal field has been found.

"Squat" mining claim condition 14 "The claim holder must not erect or allow to be erected any improvement, building or camp on the claim without the approval of the Mining Registrar".

All those "sensitive aspects" the fact remains we have had a substantial review of environmental factors in which all landholders and parties have had the opportunities for input as well as a Wardens Inquiry.

Just for the record:-
A LRMA initiative, a scheme to underwrite rehabilitation responsibilities of members is currently being considered by the Dept of Primary Industry and was passed unanimously at a general meeting.

An environmental levy for stage 2 rehabilitation asked for several years ago by the LRMA and is now finally in place and potential techniques are currently being trialed.

Legislation is also in place allowing a mechanism for management access plans to be formulated by the LRMA and individual landholders as well as the issuing of on the spot fines for breaches of environmental responsibilities by opal miners.

I am not aware of any land freehold or leasehold in NSW or elsewhere in Australia where the rights to the minerals have been returned to the
landholder in perpetuity in the last 150 years. In fact the NSW government took away the coal mineral rights of freehold land in the Hunter Valley in the 1980's.

There is much work and many issues to be resolved before exploration and mining can proceed further on any area in OPA 4. The LRMA board, staff and my self have plenty to be occupied with rather than public bickering with one farmer's representative.

Drago Panich
President LRMA

P.S. A suggestion for Louise is to read Mary E. White's book "Listen Our
Land Is Crying" for some environmental background on Australia.

26 March 2006 04:32pm
Lrma News 6 September 2005


The 32nd Annual General Meeting of the Lightning Ridge Miners' Association Ltd will be held on Saturday 19 November 2005 at the Lightning Ridge District Bowling Club. I am sure there are plenty of people around who can still remember the first AGM - how time flies. An agenda, financial reports and a newsletter will be mailed out by the end of October 2005. Hope to see you all there and we will probably have Xmas drinks and lunch immediately following the AGM as we did last year.


The LRMA met with Jock Laurie, President and local representatives of NSW Farmers late last week. The meeting was not particularly fruitful as the same misinformation was bandied around that we have come to expect from NSW Farmers - lack of rehabilitation, people living permanently on mineral claims etc all those things that are permitted on the preserved fields and no where else.

However we will be meeting again with some local graziers to try and iron out some of the areas of concern between miners and graziers. As we are all aware the rules will be stricter for prospecting and mining on Opal Prospecting Area 4 and the Department of Primary Industries are in the process of drafting the conditions.

Maxine O'Brien
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 04:31pm