Australian Opal Mining Fields
White Cliffs is Australia's oldest commercial opal field in New South Wales, found in the late 1880's. The found of opal there excited the world and the town soon developed, by the 1920's it had a population of more than 3,000 (2008). Formerly White Cliffs was a large producer of high-quality opal, however, the main run was worked out by 1930 and the field all but died out.
This field was discovered in 1905 by kangaroo shooters (2008). Lightning Ridge is one of the few places in the world where the precious and highly prized black opal is found. Though the there is a recent decline in production it is still the largest producer of opal by value. The township and the lure of the black opal have been encapsulated in Laurie Hudson's poem.
Australian opal was first mined commercially at Listowel Downs in Queensland in 1875. The fields are spread across 1,000km and produce almost all the world 's supply of boulder opal. Boulder opals (opals in concretionary ironstone) are mined in Queensland from numerous localities in a zone extending from the Eulo and Cunnamulla district in the south and northwest for over 700 km to Kynuna in the north. The towns of Quilpie, Yowah and Winton are the main opal mining and wholesale centers.
Andamooka is in the harsh desert and located near the edge of Lake Eyre. It was discovered in 1935 and is famous for producing brilliant crystal seam opal. The producing reached its peak in the 1960's, however, unfortunately, this field is worked out with very little commercial production since the 1970's. Today much of Andamooka's population is employed at the nearby uranium mines of Roxby Downs.
The bulk of the Worlds' light seam opal was mined at Coober Pedy. Mining extended over an area 50 kilometres long, running approximately north south. During the 1960s, the mining industry expanded rapidly as many European migrants came to seek their fortunes. Opal mining developed into a multi-million-dollar industry at that time and Coober Pedy became a modern mining town. In 2002 Coober Pedy's production has fallen to 25% of its heyday.
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