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South Australia's opal fields supply an estimated 80% of total world opal production

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Mining for opals in South Australia

Before mining for opals in South Australia you must:

  • hold a current Precious Stones Prospecting Permit
  • pay a fee when applying for the permit and for the registration of claims and other relevant documents.
How to obtain a permit and the basic requirements to prospect and mine for opal are outlined in:

Opal mining within the Mintabie Precious Stones Field

Opal fields in South Australia

Opal field (year discovered) Permit requiredAreaLocation Information for tourists
Proclaimed precious stones fields 263 km2 Surrounds the town of Andamooka, approx. 35 km east of Roxby Downs, approximately 250 km north of Port Augusta via Woomera Accomodation available in Andamooka and Roxby Downs
Coober Pedy
Proclaimed precious stones fields 4954 km2 On the Stuart Highway 550 km north of Port Augusta Coober Pedy is a modern town with all amenities and tourist facilities
Mintabie endorsed proclaimed precious stones fields        213 km2 On the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankuntjatjara (APY) Lands 32 km west of Marla Access to Mintabie is restricted
What you need to know about mining in Mintabie
Stuart Creek
Proclaimed precious stones fields 25 km2 Approximately 58 km north of Andamooka Only recommended for experienced opal miners and bush travellers - a remote waterless area without any significant shade trees, need a 4WD vehicle for access
Lambina and Welbourn Hill pastoral stations No opal mining is permitted without a valid Native Title Mining Agreement - Six negotiated diggings over the two pastoral stations It is  not recommended  that tourists travel to Lambina and Welbourn Hill


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Legislation and regulation of opal mining

Approval for opal mining and prospecting in South Australia is regulated by the:

The laws for opal mining apply throughout the state, but there are special provisions within the Act that apply to the proclaimed precious stones fields.

The Department for Energy and Mining, Opal Fields Program is responsible for:

  • tenement administration, regulation and physical inspection of all opal fields in South Australia
  • the development of the Opal Mining Industry through government initiatives, driving best practice and workplace safety with support from SafeWork SA programs.
Update (14 May 2019)

The Andamooka Precious Stones Field ILUA came into operation on 7 May 2019 when it was registered on the Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993.

The ILUA, between the Minister for Energy and Mining and the Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation, opens up new areas of land for opal mining with the Andamooka Precious Stones Field.

Opal miners will be able to sign up to the ILUA at no cost, by executing an Acceptance Deed - Andamooka Precious Stones Field and providing a copy to the Department. This will allow opal miners to obtain native title access to land approved by the Kokatha native title holders immediately upon obtaining the relevant permit or tenement under the Opal Mining Act 1995.

As long as opal miners comply with the ILUA they can carry out their operations without having to follow the native title process in the Opal Mining Act for the Native Title Act.

For further information about the ILUA contact:

  • Ashley Wood (Manager Opal Fields) on 8678 9059; or
  • Andrew Moll (Principal Policy Officer) on 8429 2504.

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For more information, contact:

Ashley Wood
Manager Opal Fields Program
Phone: +61 (8) 8672 5800

Jacqueline Boland
Acting Senior Deputy Opal Mining Registrar
Phone: +61 8 8672 5800
Opal miners can obtain information and application forms from:

Andamooka Post Office
9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday, closed on public holidays