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About Mintabie

Mintabie is a remote opal mining town in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia. It is in the far northwest of the state, about 300 kilometres from Coober Pedy.

For some decades, the Mintabie township has been leased to the State Government by APY. In June 2018 the State Government notified that the lease would be terminated effective 30 June 2019.

As with other areas in the APY Lands, all visitors require permits to enter Mintabie. Under conditions of the lease the State Government has issued 12-month licences to people who wished to live in the town and mine the surrounding opal field. As the lease has now terminated the State Government no longer has the authority to issue licences for people to reside at Mintabie.

The population of Mintabie fluctuates throughout the year, with approximately 20 residents living there year-round, and up to 60 residents during the peak opal mining season.

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Termination of the Mintabie Township Lease

Following a review of the Mintabie township lease in 2017, the State Government decided to uphold the decision made by the former government in February 2018 to terminate the lease.

Consequently, the Minister for Energy and Mining wrote to APY on 28 June 2018 to notify his intention to terminate the lease.

To give residents time to make alternative arrangements, the date for termination of the lease was 30 June 2019.

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Mintabie Health Services

Health services for residents of Mintabie are co-ordinated by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).

For instructions on how to access these services download the information sheet on the RFDS Primary Health Care Service (PDF)

The Marla Health Service is located at 8 Cockatoo Crescent, Marla, SA 5274 and can be contacted by telephone 08 8670 7007.

For emergency calls or evacuations, call 1800 RFDS SA on 1800 733 772.

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Housing assistance

Mintabie residents who require housing assistance should contact the SA Housing Authority. Direct contact can be made with the SA Housing Authority in Coober Pedy on telephone 08 8672 3400 or the Port Augusta Office on phone 08 8648 5388.

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SA Police

SA Police provides community safety through the provision of a visible and responsive police service. The Marla Police Station is fully staffed and residents should call 131 444 for non-urgent police assistance, or 000 in an emergency.

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Review of the Mintabie Precious Stones Field

A 2017 Review of the Mintabie township arrangements made several recommendations to the South Australian  government, including that it should review the arrangements for opal mining at Mintabie.

The State Government is reviewing the arrangements for opal mining in Mintabie and is assessing options regarding the future of the Mintabie Precious Stones Field.

While this review is in progress, there is no change in the way that opal mining in Mintabie is permitted - opal mining remains 'business as usual'.

Key stakeholders, including the opal mining industry and the APY Executive Board, were given the opportunity to put forward their views by a submission to the Department for Energy and Mining. Submissions closed on 31 October 2018.

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Mintabie Oversight Committee

The Mintabie Oversight Committee was established by the Minister for Energy and Mining to provide himself and the Premier, as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, with advice so that the State Government can:

  • meet its obligations resulting from the termination of the Mintabie Lease; and
  • ensure the orderly transition of control of the land covered by the Lease to APY on 1 July 2019.

The Mintabie Oversight Committee is independently chaired and represented by APY Board members and senior officers from the South Australian and Australian Governments.

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Opportunities for APY communities

Returning control to the traditional owners

APY communities want the management of the area to return to APY. APY Executive has notified the State Government that it does not intend to issue permits for people to reside at Mintabie following the termination of the Mintabie Township lease on 30 June 2019.

Protecting the community

Termination of the Mintabie Township Lease will have a range of positive social and economic impacts for APY, including improving the health and wellbeing of Anangu.

Local training and employment

Many sites in the Mintabie township have been abandoned, with rubbish remaining and derelict structures left standing.

Remediation may also be required due to previous damage to sacred sites in the area. There is a concern among Anangu about existing damage to sacred sites and the potential for more damage during unsupervised clean-up operations.

The State Government is working closely with APY to determine the appropriate remediation that would be required for the Township area, and the local jobs and training opportunities that will be made available in undertaking this work.

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Frequently asked questions

Mintabie Precious Stones Field review submissions

Frequently asked questions

Why did the government terminate the Mintabie lease?
What is 'book-up'?
Who was consulted about this decision?
When will this happen and who will be affected?
Can the Mintabie Precious Stones Field still be mined?
Who can I contact for further information?