Small-scale Titles (Opal Mining) Validation Program
The Minister for Finance and Natural Resources Courtney Houssos has announced the implementation of a comprehensive validation program for small-scale mineral (opal) claims in Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs.
This program follows a Mining, Exploration and Geoscience rreview of administrative processes for the grant and renewal of mineral claims across the Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs Mineral Claim Districts.
The review identified a range of issues arising from legislative reform of the Mining Act 1992 that commenced in 2015.
The review uncovered 3343 current mineral claims that were impacted by invalid decisions, including 1230 invalidly granted licences to 827 opal miners in Lightning Ridge and 31 opal miners in White Cliffs.
Ms Houssos said the NSW Government’s priority was for a timely resolution of the matter, which recognised the statutory rights of all stakeholders including 35 primarily impacted landholders.
“I am advised the mining division of the Department of Regional NSW unearthed this legacy issue earlier this year and is working through the implications as quickly as possible. It is deploying additional resources to work with miners and landholders to expedite mineral claim validation,” Ms Houssos said.
“On behalf of the government I apologise for this disruption to miners and landholders.
“We know how important the opal industry is to Lightning Ridge, White Cliffs and surrounding communities. That’s why we will be working closely with impacted miners and landholders to expedite determinations of mineral claim grants and renewals.”
Ms Houssos has already been in touch with miners’ associations, representatives of landholders and local leaders to discuss the issue. The minister also announced plans to commission an independent review into the current statutory framework for administration and regulation of small-scale opal titles.
“This review will analyse the current state of the industry, including access and landholder compensation arrangements and will consider the findings and recommendations of the 2011 Murray Wilcox report to inform practical changes to the legislative framework.
“I look forward to visiting Lightning Ridge when parliament rises to meet in person with miners and landholders to gain a firsthand understanding of opal mining and work with them to identify improvements to the current framework,” Ms Houssos said.
Find out more about the Small-Scale Title Validation Program.