The Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association Ltd welcomes NSW Government’s Voluntary Surrender Scheme for Western Lands Leases in Lightning Ridge. The NSW Department of Industry released the proposal to buy back opal mining affected land on 25 February 2016.
“Lightning Ridge and the surrounding areas is the only place in the world where economic deposits of black opal occurs and we are hopeful this scheme will give those western lands leaseholders who are having difficulty co-existing with opal mining a viable alternative", says Maxine O’Brien, Secretary/Manager, Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association Ltd.
“This is a win, win for all stakeholders, miners, leaseholders and government. Leaseholders of agriculturally unproductive opal bearing ridge country must be very pleased as they have been lobbying for this outcome for many years. “The proposal is quite clear on the way forward and states “leaseholders who do not participate in the VSS will continue to operate within and accept the existing land use regime and coexistence with opal miners.” “This is a positive affirmation of the worth of the black opal industry to the NSW Government. Minister for Resources & Energy Anthony Roberts has been active in resolving land use conflicts since his term as Minister including the long outstanding issue of compensation. The Lightning Ridge area has seen keen support from our State member Kevin Humphries who was advocating this solution during his term as Lands Minister. “Black opal, our NSW State emblem, is a major contributor to the local, regional and State economies along with the tourism industry that is founded on the world’s most unique gemstone. “This scheme will not only benefit local miners but also wholesalers, retailers and jewellery manufacturers all over Australia. Australian black opal is currently very popular on the international coloured gemstone market and it is critical that we increase our production to take advantage of the increased interest. This buy back scheme should give opal miners more confidence to invest in exploration and mining,” Maxine concluded.