FAR NORTH News & Events

31st OCTOBER DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS TO SAVE MINTABIE

Mintabie overview 21-8-2011 006_SM

Mintabie is an extensive self sufficient, beautifully kept, off the grid town, occupied by long term residents. Mintabie opal continues to pump considerable wealth into the South Australian economy!

Should Government decisions on Mintabie be subjected to an Independent Review/Examination?

We have until the 31st of October to email the South Australian Government about why they shouldn’t shut down the Mintabie opal mining town!

With assistance from a broad submission written by former Mintabie resident Eileen Hooper many people such as USA resident and international opal buyer Arek Varjabedian have been able to support Mintabie’s plight using Eileen’s well researched facts.  

Many believe that the decision to close Mintabie township was a political decision and that all of the government decisions on Mintabie including historic decisions are in dire need of an Independent Review or Examination.   Mintabie is an off-the-grid town opal mining town and relies solely on clean energy.  

Arek Varjabedian submission reads:

I am a citizen of the United States and concerned for my family’s well being since my source of income is derived from the sale of Mintabie Opal that I cut, polish and make jewery with. If the Mintabie Opal production were to stop my profit margin would be significantly reduced, effectively putting me out of business since the majority of my clientele demand high quality Mintabe Opal.

This particular locale is very different than the rest of Australia’s Opal and the demand for it is high in the US market. I also sell rough to other cutters and jewelers alike who’s families will be affected by the cessation of mining in this region. Prices for Mintabie Opal rough has skyrocketed due to talks of shutting down the mines.

Please for the sake of my children’s future I and many other friends and family plead that you do not shut down mining at Mintabie.

Actions the S.A. government should take instead of shutting down the town of Mintabie:
Take a small percentage of profits generated by mining to increase security in the area and reduce crime.

Increasing efforts to clean the area up and more importantly, rebrand the Mintabie mines as a travel destination to bring much needed revenue for the local economy to become established, continuously profitable and sustainable for future generations to come.

• Does the government even realise they are putting future Stuart Highway road users at risk by moving to evict & bull-doze the Opal mining town, and Field, of Mintabie?

The Mintabie SES, & CFS have attended manybim, many car accidents & fires over the years!! Mintabie is a HUGE asset in the large, remote area of Far North SA, particularly on such an isolated stretch of the Stuart Highway. The Mintabie Samaritans volunteer their time, energy & goodwill to train & are usually the first responders to any crisis that occur in the region. The government’s actions will be the cause of future deaths if the #towneviction and PSF closure is allowed to proceed.

• Does the government realise the Mintabie Telecentre is the only open, accessible Post Office between Alice Springs & Coober Pedy?? Businesses at Marla also use this service.
• Does the Government realise that with these expulsion moves they will be sentencing young children to travel 80 km each way to and from school?

The APY Lands consist of an area of land of 102,700 km²- for approx 3,000 people…….. And entry to those lands are firmly blocked to approx 25 million Aussies.

Totally locked off lands. Apart from the long-time Designated Precious Stones Opal Field at Mintabie, an intensively mined area of, currently, a miniscule 2 km2 . Even if the PSF were to be expanded (for which there is a good case for doing so), it would still be a tiny percentage.

By removing the Designation of a Precious Stones Field at Mintabie, and the township, you will be taking away the opportunity of all Australians to visit and experience the challenges and triumphs of finding a piece of Australia’s National Gemstone.

The 2009 APY-Mintabie amended Legislation gave power that affected all Australians, in the fact that ordinary Australians are now forbidden to venture into Mintabie, which was previously an established, thriving opal field township that was open to ALL Australians, prior to the aboriginal land grants in the 1980’s.

So Goodbye to the rugged adventurers, grey nomads, rock hounds, 4WDrivers and tourists, with your pockets full of money. You could have helped to bring the APY lands into the 21st century, raised their living standards, offered fresh opportunities, the possibilities could have been endless.

Mintabie, SA, Australia has deeply touched the hearts of a multitude of people over the long years of its existence. I like to think that it is only those people whose own inner qualities resonate with the characteristics of individuality, resourcefulness, genuineness, empathy & compassion.

I have long protested the years-long, multi-governmental bullying of Mintabie residents, which has caused prolonged mental anguish and untold distress to the populace over that time. After taking away the local Medical Centre, the State Government then cruelly planned to take away their homes. Now the next plan is to take away their very livelihoods, past-times and hobbies.

• It should be noted – In the 1/12/2009 edition of Hansard, a quote from the very respected Mr. Graeme Gunn, the former Member for Stuart, from within the APY Act debate,

”In relation to this legislation (the 2009 Amendments to the APY Act), let me make it very clear that I believe the people at Mintabie are just as entitled as anyone else to have a place in the sun. They were legally there before the AP lands legislation came into effect. It was a part of the Walatina pastoral lease. I have been there many times, and they provided services and facilities and acted legally. “ Unquote.

At the time of the original AP Legislation, 1981, the government stressed to Mintabie residents that change would be minimal & the opal miners would be protected.

Successive government’s policies have actually been the cause of the decline of local services & population, and have thereby created deliberate uncertainty in the opal town’s future

At the time of the Mabo judgement and land rights, all Australians worried their very backyards would be at risk of being handed over to a Land Rights claim. The government said ‘Occupied land would NEVER be handed over’.

Well, Mintabie WAS an established, occupied township at the time of the APY Land deal, so Mintabie was not supposed to be included within the deal. The Politicians of yester-year said ‘Don’t worry, Mintabie will be protected’ Hah!

As an existing, occupied township such as Mintabie, SA, should NEVER EVER have been included in the 2009 APY Land Claim! Please do not compound the error by locking away the Designated Precious Stones Field at Mintabie.

Yours cordially,
Arek Varjabedian
Sent to: DEM.MintabieOpalMining@sa.gov.au

By Margaret Mackay (Coober Pedy Regional Times)

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