A new opal rush has begun in Coober Pedy (South Australia), where opal miners in the hundreds have gathered to participate in a ballot which will allow them to mine in areas untouched for nearly four decades.
Shell Patch Reserve, so called due to the discovery of rare, sought-after stunning opalised shells in this patch of land, sits roughly 35 kilometres north of Coober Pedy. This particular area had been excluded from mining in 1977 because of cultural significance, but under a new agreement with local indigenous people, it has now been released.
With a reported 221 registered miners, only 60 were fortunate to be able to peg their claim in a rush to get the most desired mining patches – some being under existing molluck heaps (opal ‘rubbish’), with a good chance of material to be found under the old workings.
There’s a very good chance this new opal rush could stimulate the opal market, particularly with new supplies being able to go to overseas buyers. It’s a welcome sight for the Opal Industry in all, with the industry having experienced a decline in mining in recent years.