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LRMA News 1 July 2009

NUMBERS DOWN FOR BALLOTS


Government policy appears to have had a dramatic effect on the number of miners entering the ballot for Opal Prospecting Blocks on Barfield. The most miners entering the 12 ballots so far has been about 43 compared to over 500 when the blocks on ‘Kurrajong’ were released several years ago.

The successful ballot winners will have their titles pended until a Review of Environmental Factors and Rehabilitation and Environment Plan is completed for the ‘Barfield’. The LRMA and GGSMA are in the process of preparing the required report to submit to the Department of Primary Industries. There is bound to be some negotiations over the contents of the plans and we cannot predict how long this process will take but hopefully the Department will only require minor modifications to the plans we submit.

The Department of Primary Industries advised many years ago that they would prepare the necessary environmental reports for ‘Kurrajong’ and ‘Barfield’ to enable them to undertake a Part V determination under the Environment and Planning and Assessment Act, which they did and ‘Kurrajong’ was released a couple of years ago. No opal was discovered on ‘Kurrajong’.

Unfortunately the Department has changed their policy and will not make a determination for ‘Barfield’ until new reports are written. This is frustrating for everyone as many people have put in years of work into developing the regime for prospecting and mining in Opal Prospecting Area 4 such as refining the claim conditions, negotiating how the Mines Operation Plans work etc. But on the bright side the Department apparently will not require a Mines Operation Plan from individual miners.

TOWN BLOCK TO BE REOPENED


Walgett Shire Council has lifted part of a policy reserve between Fantasia Street and the airport. This area had been reserved for many years for future urban expansion. The area closest to Fantasia Street has been earmarked for future development and the LRMA had been lobbying for many years to have the balance released so that it can once again be explored and mined for opal.

OPB 116 covers this area and we have asked the Department to release the area in a couple of weeks time. There will be special conditions for part of this area, such as no residences and rehabilitation to new field standards, just in case it is required for urban expansion in the years to come. We will keep you posted on the release date.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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 04:56pm
LRMA News 23 June 2009

NSW FARMERS CONTINUE THEIR CAMPAIGN TO STOP OPAL MINING


NSW Farmers have issued a media release calling on the government not to release the Opal Prospecting Blocks on Barfield as they state that miners do not conduct their operations responsibly or rehabilitate properly. The 12 Blocks on Barfield will be released, two per day commencing this Friday.

NSW Farmers have missed out a few vital points.

This is the only place in the world where gem quality black opal is mined economically, it is our State emblem and opal is the national gemstone. The carrying capacity for Barfield is one sheep to five hectares (12 ¼ acres) in the north and one sheep to three hectares (7 ¼ acres) in the south, hardly valuable agricultural land. Over 95% of miners to operate responsibly and rehabilitate properly, which is a very high proportion of compliance for any industry. Access to new areas is vital for the future of the opal industry. The local economy is dependent on opal mining which flows through to our vibrant tourism industry. Landholders have an exceptionally strong clause in the Mining Act indemnifying them against any activity associated with mining. Miners pay a levy to further rehabilitate older areas and bring them up to modern day standards and in newer areas it is used for off title impacts. Many farmers have relied on opal mining to supplement their income particularly in times of drought.

The LRMA and GGSMA visited the landholder of ‘Barfield’ last week continuing an ongoing dialogue and whilst he had concerns about unauthorised visitors to his property he did not have concerns about genuine miners and did not appear to want to stop prospecting and mining.

It is also worth noting that even though these blocks will be released it may be quite some time before prospecting and mining can take place and any successful person in the ballots will have their titles pended. They will not be permitted to commence operations until a new Review of Environmental Factors and Rehabilitation and Environmental Plan is approved.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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 04:54pm