Earlier this year, there was news that the South Australian opal-mining town of Mintabie would be closed by the South Australian Government, possibly due to a report stating numerous incidents within the township (which were brought to the attention of the police).
The report (commissioned by the former Labor Government) was publicly released early in 2018 and had raised major concerns about criminal activities in the town.
In short, the report’s 14 recommendations – which did include the option to close down the town, and hand control back over to the traditional custodians, the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) – were adopted by the South Australian Government.
Mintabie (situated North West of the main mining area of Coober Pedy), which has 30 permanent residents who live there under licences which are issued every 12 months, and its opal fields all fall within APY territory, which has been leased to the South Australian Government since the early 1980s.
The control of Mintabie will be handed back to the APY lands next year (2019), on July 1.
However, this does not necessarily mean, contrary to first reports, the closure of the town or the opal fields.
What it does mean, is that rather than having the South Australian Government be in agreement with the APY and the landholders, then having to deal with the residents about their terms and conditions, the residents of Mintabie can deal directly with the APY (who will be assessing who they are comfortable with having there, and have stated that they are not looking to shut everything down or kick everyone out of the town).
What will happen to Mintabie’s mining residents and general opal production from this area, and its effect on Australia’s opal industry (if any), time will tell.
If you’re new to opal, and curious as to the type of opal Mintabie produces, have a look at the following –
Information sourced from the article ‘Mintabie may not necessarily close when opal mining town lease ends, SA Government says’ found on the ABC News website.
Original link to the article (published on July 2nd 2018)