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LRMA News 16 June 2009


The Department of Primary Industries announced last week they are releasing 12 Opal Prospecting Blocks on ‘Barfield’ between 26 June and 3 July 2009. Although the ballots will be held for these blocks the winners applications will be pended and the applicant will need to provide the Department with a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) and Rehabilitation Environment Management Plan (REMP).

The REF and REMP must contain sufficient information for the Department to make a determination under Part 5 of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act. The information required is quite detailed and there are guidelines for a REF on the Departments website. If any member is interested we have more information on the requirements in the LRMA office.

If miners comply with the mining methods and operations described in the REF and REMP they will not have to do the Mines Operation Plans (MOPs) for ‘Barfield’.

There has already been a lengthy REF completed for the whole of the Narran-Warrambool Reserve, two follow up environmental studies for ‘Barfield’ and ‘Kurrajong’ and identification of areas sensitive to Aboriginal culture and heritage. The OPBs were released on ‘Kurrjong’ over 18 months ago and there was no requirement at that time for an additional REF and REMP.

The Department had advised us that they would undertake the relevant environmental studies for ‘Kurrajong’ and ‘Barfield’ and then it was up to the industry to commission necessary studies for the rest of Opal Prospecting Area 4. We have not been able to get an answer on why the Department’s policy has changed and what was wrong with the 2005 REF and 2006 flora, fauna and biodiversity studies for ‘Barfield’ and ‘Kurrajong’.

The LRMA and GGSMA are currently looking into preparing a REF and REMP on behalf of the industry although applicants can still prepare their own regardless. The Department has advised that the environmental assessments can be prepared for both the prospecting and mining phases together in which case once approved miners could take out the OPB and then register a mineral. Or we could undertake the environmental assessment initially for the prospecting phase and if successful the OPL would be granted but any mineral claim applications would be pended until an additional REF and REMP for the mining phase is prepared.

Miners should be aware that even though the OPBs on ‘Barfield’ are being released it may still be many, many months before they are granted.


The sixth National Opal Symposium is fast approaching. It is being held in Winton, Qld from 7-9 July 2009. If you are interested in attending please register as soon as possible. The LRMA office has registration forms available.

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

1 August 2009 04:51pm
LRMA NEWS 27 May 2009


Dr Patrice Rey, Structural geologist from the University of Sydney is at the start of a long journey to understand opal formation. Dr Rey is currently visiting Lightning Ridge with student Baptiste Journaux to look at open cuts, underground mines and opal in situ.

Patrice has been involved in opal research for many years now. One of his PhD Students Ingrid van der Beek submitted her thesis on opal “Structural and Lithological relationships to opal deposition at Lightning Ridge, NSW” in October 2003 and Patrice presented at the National Opal Symposium in Lightning Ridge in 2005 and in Quilpie in 2007.

During this time many miners have assisted Patrice with samples but his research team now need to see opal in its context so they can assess the orientation and placement of the material in the host rock.

Patrice and his colleague Adriana Dutkiewicz have secured a discovery research grant from the Australian Research Council for about a quarter of a million dollars over three years to study the formation of opal.

The project aims are:-

Investigate the role macroscopic and microscopic structural features associated with major opal fields play in the formation of precious opal.
Investigate the impact of intraplate (palaeo)-stresses and dynamic topography on the unique geological setting of the opal deposits.
Constrain fluid geochemistry and subsurface conditions under which opal forms using fluid inclusions in opal and associated cements, as well as opal and host rock geochemistries and use this information to elucidate the evolution and migration pathway of the opalising fluid.
Establish the role microbes play in the formation of opal by extracting paleofluids preserved within fluid inclusions in the opal.
Determine the age of opal genesis using direct U-Pb, 230Th-U and (U-Th)/He SHRIMP dating of opal deposits.
Adriana and Patrice will be visiting all the opal fields and have already been to Coober Pedy but the bulk of their research will be focused on Lightning Ridge.

If anyone has any interesting structural features in their claim and can assist with this project please let the LRMA office know. Patrice and Adriana will be back around September and Adriana will be presenting at the National Opal Symposium in Winton on 8 July 2009.

1 August 2009 04:47pm