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LRMA News 21 July 2009

NATIONAL OPAL SYMPOSIUM


The National Opal Symposium was held in Winton 7-9 July 2009. Hosted by the Queensland Boulder Opal Association there was an excellent variety of speakers and topics.

These included Sate reports from the miners associations and government departments; welcome and presentation on Indigenous Land Use Agreements by traditional descendent Pearl Eatts; the global jewellery industry and opportunities for Australian opal and the nexus between inbound tourism and Australian opal by Damien Cody; selling opal on the internet by Paul Sedawie; the need for more opal production by Max Lane; and the role of public companies in the Australian opal industry by David Horton.

Scientific presentations included the origin of Australian Opal Deposits by Adrianna Dutkiewicz, University of Sydney; what we have learnt in the past 25 years by NSW DPI geologist John Watkins; the occurrence of opal in the great artesian basin by Dietmar Muller, University of Sydney; Materials chemistry of Opal by Paul Thomas, University of Technology; and advances in digital technology by Col Duff.

Our very own Drago Panich spoke on the evolution of exploration methods and techniques of 35 years of opal at Lightning Ridge and Jenni Brammall wowed the audience on the Australian Opal Centre.

Ladies Janice Evert, Lilo Stadler and June Prpic gave talks on their experiences as women in the opal industry and miners Peter Christianos Snr and Vlado Prpic talked about opal mining in today’s environment in Queensland. Peter Christianos Jnr gave an impassioned presentation on the colourful history of opal, her admirers and use by master jewellers.

The meet and greet night kicked off at the Waltzing Matilda Centre with an opal inspired art show featuring local indigenous artworks, the Symposium dinner featured very funny comedian Sean Choolburra and a dance presentation by local talent who also modelled opal design awards frocks and jewellery. The Symposium finished up at the Tatts Hotel which also saw the opening of the trade show.

The next National Opal Symposium will be held in Lightning Ridge 25-27 July 2011 – no doubt the time will go quickly.

ABC TV


NSW Farmers have stirred up quite a bit of media interest lately on the balloting of the Opal Prospecting Blocks on ‘Barfield’. There has been a few stories on ABC Radio and ABC TV was here late last week and interviewed a couple of graziers and well as opal miners. We are not sure when the story will appear but it may be on the 7.30 Report late this week so watch out for it.

GAB WATER AUCTION


The Dept of Water and Energy auctioned off 24 lots of 50 megalitres each of Great Artesian Water in Walgett on Tuesday. The auction was the result of savings achieved through the cap and pipe the bore scheme. The GAB Advisory committee of which the LRMA was a member, many years ago signed off on a Water Sharing Plan that recommended that 70% of water savings be returned to the basin with 30% put up for sale for new businesses. The major purchaser of the water lots was the Moree spa industry. The Lots went for between $50,000 and $30,000 the equivalent of $600 to $1,000 per megalitre. These lots will be able to be used in the Surat, Warrego and Central parts of the NSW basin but not in any recharge areas. Artesian water can also be traded.

The LRMA owns a license for 250 megalitres which is used to supply artesian water out of two bores to four processing tanks.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Maxine O'Brien
Secretary/Manager
Lightning Ridge Miners' Association Ltd
PO Box 177, Lightning Ridge NSW 2834
Ph: 02 6829 0427, Fax: 02 6829 0830
Mob: 0427 920 474
Email: lrma@lightningridge.net.au


1 August 2009 05:02pm
LRMA News 15 July 2009

MAJOR ACCESS WIN IN THE SUPREME COURT


Supreme Court Judge J Hall handed down his decision in the case Parkins v Lightning Ridge Miners Association Limited on 6 April 2009 and the miners won on all grounds and Parkins amended summons was dismissed.

Mr Parkins had appealed the Mining Warden’s determination of an Access Management Plan (AMP) for ‘Wyoming’ on four grounds. The most important ground being the meaning of the term ‘access’. The other three grounds related to procedural fairness.

Parkins argued that the Warden erred in his construction of ‘access’ in relation to the AMP. The Mining Warden had found that an AMP cannot contain provisions relating to the dumping of mullock; that it cannot contain provisions requiring miners to remove mullock previously dumped on the landholders land; that he could not include provisions directing rehabilitation measures outside the access routes; without the consent of the party he could not include a condition that the LRMA remove the three mullock dumps on the landholders property; and failure generally to exercise his discretion in what can be included in an AMP.

In short the LRMA argued that mullock is a nature of mining and not related to ‘access’; ; that conditions of mining are contained in the title conditions; that unless both parties agree the location and extent of mullock heaps were not relevant to an AMP and could not be included; it was observed that “… Unless there is consent by the landholder to accumulate mullock, produced by mining activities, elsewhere on the land then the mullock must be stored in the site of the relevant mineral claim. This would lead to a multiplicity of mullock heaps and that would not be in the landholder’s best interest, nor in the best interest of the environment. The point is that without an agreement between the parties to include such a matter, then the storage of mullock has nothing to do with the conditions of an AMP.”; that unless both parties agree that the only conditions that can be contained in an AMP are those relating strictly to access.

Judge Hall ruled that in his opinion the Chief Mining Warden adopted the correct construction of access and concluded that no error has been established.

The three other grounds related to breaches of the requirements of procedural fairness – reliance by the Warden on a document entitled ‘A Management Plan for the property of Wyoming’ as the document was not put to Parkins for comment and submission; refusal of an adjournment to allow the NSW Department of Primary Industries to make a submission on the availability of levies to fund the enforcement of an AMP and rehabilitation; and the admission of evidence by Drago Panich without notice.

Judge Hall ruled, in short, that the Warden did not rely on the Management Plan to determine the construction of ‘access’ and would not have arrived at a different outcome if he had not considered the plan. He ruled that the Warden essentially used his discretion in not allowing an adjournment for the DPI to make a submission as levies were not really an issue in relation to ‘access’ and his discretion was not used improperly. Judge Hall found that the Chief Mining Warden did not breach the requirements of procedural fairness in regards to evidence being heard from Drago Panich as Parkin’s lawyer was given the opportunity but did not ask for an adjournment after Drago gave evidence but went ahead and cross examined him.

This is an excellent outcome for the opal industry and may also have ramifications across the rest of the mining industry. The LRMA will be seeking costs.

BARFIELD – NO ACCESS


The 12 Opal Prospecting Blocks on ‘Barfield’ have been balloted but as most are aware no one can commence prospecting and mining until a Review of Environmental Factors and Rehabilitation and Environmental Management Plan are prepared and approved by the Department. This may take some time.

As no activity can commence on ‘Barfield’ there is no need to access ‘Barfield’ and at this point in time no unauthorised access is permitted. It is important to maintain good relations with the landholder and they do not want people driving around their property unnecessarily. We understand that those who have won the ballots may need to have a look prior to commencing drilling and we ask that they contact the LRMA first so we can advise the landholder.

The LRMA will be holding a meeting at their office at 3.30pm on Wednesday 22 July 2009 with the winners of the ballots and their drillers to discuss the preparation of the relevant environmental reports. The GGSMA and LRMA have made a bit of a start but there is still a way to go.

NATIONAL OPAL SYMPOSIUM



The National Opal Symposium was held last week in Winton and the Lighting Ridge delegation had a great time. It was exceptionally well organised and all the speakers were very interesting. Thank you to the Queensland Boulder Opal Association for hosting the event and we will report in more detail in next week’s newsletter. In the meantime we do have some Symposium satchels available for sale at $20 each.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Maxine O'Brien
Secretary/Manager
Lightning Ridge Miners' Association Ltd
PO Box 177, Lightning Ridge NSW 2834
Ph: 02 6829 0427, Fax: 02 6829 0830
Mob: 0427 920 474
Email: lrma@lightningridge.net.au


1 August 2009 04:59pm