LRMA Newsletter: 5 February 2013
Opal miners are facing serious threats to their livelihoods as issue after issue piles up with no resolutions.
“As a former Mayor and a current Councillor and opal miner I have grave concerns for Lightning Ridge. I do not believe this town will survive without opal mining. The tourist industry is dependent upon a strong opal industry and there are around 20 local retail businesses directly dependent on a secure supply of opal.
“Without a mining and tourism industry many other services and businesses will disappear and it will happen faster than you think.
“Every person in and around Lightning Ridge will be affected. Lightning Ridge has grown to become a minor regional centre and many smaller towns surrounding our area use our services”, says Ian Woodcock.
LRMA Secretary/Manager, Maxine O’Brien continued “We believe a handful of landholders are having undue influence over government policy and at the present time government are taking no action and putting a thousand families at risk for sake of a few. Even the fact that we have good relations and agreements in place with the majority of landholders makes no difference.
“The most frightening government proposal is to introduce a time limit on mining, a sunset clause. This would severely discourage miners from investing their time and money into prospecting and mining.
“The other crucial issue is landholder compensation. Minister Hartcher has promised he will set the amount of compensation but to date this has not happened leaving miners at the mercy of some landholders over money and access.
“Over the past year government has abolished our infrastructure levies so we are no longer able to maintain mining tracks, waste dumps or undertake advanced rehabilitation. At the same time government massively increased security deposits thus discouraging registration of new titles.
“Government inaction is polarising our society. Not too long ago coexistence was the norm and miners and farmers mined side be side as many still do.
“This situation is extremely serious and all members of the community need to be involved.”
The LRMA are arranging a public meeting and encourage all to attend, voice your concerns and show your support. The date will be set soon.