Heading northwest after leaving Lighting Ridge, on my way to Coober Pedy, I ran into 3 days of cool, rainy, windy weather. So It was a delight to pull into Coober Pedy with warm sunny skies. I love Coober Pedy…the sense of adventure here…good Greek restaurants…nice motels…and one can almost smell fiery opal in the air. But, some of the younger opal miners I’d been buying opal from, left Coober for jobs in Adelaide or the nearby iron ore or gold mines. The number of miners I know is dwindling and the amount of opal coming out of the ground is dwindling as well. Early on in my search for opal this year I found that the price of gemmy opal, the really bright colorful stones that take your breath away, had more than doubled since my last trip to Coober Pedy in 2014. That was certainly bad news for opal buyers. No new opalfields, in the huge Coober Pedy Precious Stones Field, had been found. In the past a new opalfield was found every couple years…last one found in the CPPSF was in 2011…Donna’s Rush; a very small opalfield. Yes, old fields are still being worked with some success, but they are slowly being worked out.
So the news from Coober Pedy is not good. Although, since Australia is a prime supplier to China of natural resources, especially coal and iron, and with China’s appetite for the resources diminishing and with the price for rough opal at all time highs, it’s possible that the young opal miners, let go when the huge ore mines cut back or close, may return to Coober Pedy and new fresh opalfields may be found. The CPPSF is approximately 5000 square kilometers. That’s a lot of room and much of hasn’t been thoroughly prospected or test drilled. So my hope is more opalfields can be found.