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LRMA News 10 April 2007


Well over twenty people from Lightning Ridge trekked off to Coober Pedy for the 5th National Opal Symposium, the inaugural Coober Pedy Gem Trade Show and their Opal Festival in the week before and over Easter.

Over 100 attended the Symposium with the theme ‘The Future is in Our Hands’. There were geology presentations and an overview of opal mining from each of the States. The comparison between opal mining in NSW and SA and Qld was quite marked. Fees for opal mining and red tape to get onto the ground are substantially less in the other two States.

The first day ended with speaker Ross Honeywill, who discussed a new breed of consumers – NEO (new economic order) who are 24% of the population yet are the largest discretionary spenders. He also talked about the fragmented opal industry and undisciplined selling practices and the need for the industry to come together and identify what needs to change.

Another keynote speaker Dr Gaetano Cavalieri, President of CIBJO – the World Jewellery Confederation, continued the theme of disunity and advised that we should try and change and promote opal as a precious gemstone rather than a souvenir item. He also advocated the setting up of a research institute for opal and a promotional council. The National Opal Miners Association has taken some of the suggestions on board and we will write about these next week.

Other speakers included Paul Sedawie on Selling Opals on the Internet, Andrew Cody on Marketing Opal. Austrade, Anthony Smallwood and Dr Paul Thomas on Advances in the Thermal and Microstructural Characterisation of Precious Opal and Professor Michael Archer on How Scientific Research Can Help the Opal Industry.

The organising committee arranged some salubrious social events and it was also interesting to look at the differences between Coober Pedy and Lightning Ridge. Their tourist industry is a lot larger than ours and there are many opal shops, restaurants and clubs. It seems every nationality has their own club plus there is the only international underground hotel the Desert Cave.

We were lucky enough to attend the opening of the South Australian Museum’s first permanent offsite display of fossil collection items housed at the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum, one of the major tourist attractions in Coober Pedy.

It was a great event, the Coober Pedy people were extremely friendly and it was fortuitous that we had such an industry event for so many to come together and be told by a variety of speakers how fragmented we were.

Opening of the SA Museum’s fossil collection at the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum – Yanni Athanasiadis (Umoona Opal Mine and Museum), Robert Coro (Desert Cave), Steve Staines (Northern Regional Development Board)and Trevor McLeod (CEO, District Council of Coober Pedy)

Symposium organisers and speakers - Steve Staines (Northern Regional Development Board), John Dale (PIRSA), Yanni Athanasiadis (Chairperson), unknown, Dr Gaetano Cavalieri (President CIBJO), Trevor McLeod (CEO, District Council of Coober Pedy), Andrew Cody (Cody Opals) and Mark Bell (Northern Regional Development Board)

Tim Thomas, Drago Panich, Henk Godthelp, Brian Senior and Phil McLelland.

Sharon Cleaver, Mario Ikasovic and Lisa Carroll

Warwick and Margaret Schofield, Stewart Tranter Brown, Jenni Brammell, John Cividin and John.

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

11 April 2007 01:42am
LRMA NEWS 27 March 2007


We were saddened to hear of the passing of Barry Hayes. Barry was a champion of Lightning Ridge for many decades. He was with the Western Lands Commission for 41 years during which time he assisted with many things around the town including the planning of new residential sub-division and was instrumental in granting a western lands lease to the Lightning Ridge Miners' Association Ltd where we have our office complex today. He also helped out in White Cliffs working out western lands leases to cover the miners dug outs.

“Misty” as he was known was an ever keen bowler and spent a lot of his retirement on the greens in Bateau Bay and Lightning Ridge. He has been a consultant to the LRMA for a couple of decades and has prepared many of the maps in our office that are still used by opal miners.

Barry amongst his other talents was a great historian and was the first President of the Lightning Ridge Historical Society in 1975.

He has been a valuable advocate of the opal industry and Lightning Ridge and will be sorely missed.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held in the next couple of weeks so all his friends watch out for the date.


The National Opal Symposium is fast approaching and some hardy souls from Lightning Ridge have already headed off on a road trip, the long way round to finish up in Coober Pedy to kick off on Tuesday 3rd April 2007. The Symposium is on Wednesday and Thursday next week followed by the Coober Pedy Opal Festival. We will also be using the opportunity to hold a National Opal Miners Association meeting.

It will be great fun catching up with opal miners from all over and we will have some further details on return.
Maxine O'Brien
Australian Opal Exhibition
PO Box 731, Lightning Ridge NSW 2834
Ph: 02 6829 0427, Fax: 02 6829 0830
Mob: 0427 920 474

29 March 2007 10:03pm