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In May, it was revealed that opal miners in Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs had spent nearly a decade paying for invalid licences which were incorrectly approved by Mining, Exploration and Geoscience. | Source: The Australian
In May, it was revealed that opal miners in Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs had spent nearly a decade paying for invalid licences which were incorrectly approved by Mining, Exploration and Geoscience. | Source: The Australian

Mass refunds for aggrieved opal mining community

The NSW Government has confirmed it will pay refunds to opal miners impacted by a recent administrative oversight which placed hundreds of livelihoods in jeapordy.

Natural Resources Minister Courtney Houssos announced the refund scheme would pay for administration levies, licence fees and renewal costs.

In May, it was revealed that opal miners in Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs had spent nearly a decade paying for invalid licences which were incorrectly approved by Mining, Exploration and Geoscience.

shane morris-opal miner-lightridge
shane morris-opal miner-lightridge
“It's the least the minister could do at this stage because it's thrown chaos into the community and the industry.”
Shane Morris, Lightning Ridge

The licences were reportedly invalid because of a previously unnoticed stipulation that miners must send a letter to landholders seven days before the approval process. More than 3,340 licences were impacted by the error.

"I'm really sorry for the disruption that is caused to the miners and to the local communities during this peak mining season," Houssos said.

"The department has advised me that we should have miners back on their leases within weeks — some of these will take longer."

Lightning Ridge opal miner Shane Morris told ABC News the issue is far from resolved.

"It's the least the minister could do at this stage because it's thrown chaos into the community and the industry," he said.

"There's that much confusion, no-one knows what's going on."

Among the issues raised by the mining community was the decision to deem the licences invalid retroactively, rather than applying the validation process to new licences.

More reading
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Opal mining industry rocked by government error
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The Gem Quarter: The distinctively elegant gemstones of Australia

 











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