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Mintabie, in South Australia is well known for its wild flowers (following rain), spectacular sunsets over the lake and its unique black and crystal opal. It is a friendly town of about 300 people who welcome visitors to their caravan parks and hotel. Its opal mining presence has become recognised over the last 20 years but there is no one big miner, rather numerous small claims being individually mined.

Many People Visit Mintabie to Noodle
Many visitors come to Mintabie to 'noodle,' (the sifting of sand and clay) in many spots around the town in the exciting search for an opal. However, to get to Mintabie a person has to obtain a permit to enter Indigenous land. This can be acquired from the Maria police station where permits to enter the opal field are also obtained. To obtain a Mintabie endorsed Precious Stones Prospecting Permit (PSPP) the intending 'noodler' will need a National Police Clearance Certificate as well. This also applies to people wanting to obtain a camp site licence.

Strict Regulations Enforced to Control Behaviour at Mintabie
One of the main conditions of being granted a precious stone tenement at Mintabie is that you can- not live on the opal field itself. The only places where camping is allowed is in special designated places within the township.

Australian Opal Company Began its Business at Mintabie
The Australian Opal Company, a family owned and operated gemstone company based in Coober Pedy and Adelaide, began its business operation at the Mintabie Opal Fields during the 1970's. The Australian Opal Company expanded its business to south west Queensland working the Boulder Opal Field for a while. From 1984 the company has concentrated its attention on the Coober Pedy field.

Local Aborigine's Find First Opal at Mintabie
There are more than 100 miners working the Mintabie opal field at any one time, some work claims at the nearby Lambina Station. It is believed that local aboriginal people were the first to find opals in the Mintabie area. Early miners who went to Mintabie to try their luck soon left because of the lack of water and the hard sandstone which housed the elusive gem stone. Large machinery was introduced to the Mintabie Opal field in 1976.

Opal Mining a big Contributer to South Australia's Economy

It has been estimated that total opal production from the South Australian opal fields of; Mintabie, Andamooka and Coober Pedy in 1997 alone was $40 million, with most of this production being exported to China, Germany, United States and Japan.

The South Australian Parliament passed the Anangu Pitantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act in 1981 that controlled activity at Mintabie. This resulted in the small township area of Mintabie being leased back to the Crown. This lease expired in 2002 and in 2009 the state government created the framework outlining a new lease. The Mintabie Opal fields has been the largest opal producing area in the world for many years and today it is still producing many millions of dollars worth of opals annually.

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