Where Do You Mine Your Own Opals?


An opal stone is one of the most resplendent gems in the world – it can even be worth as much as diamonds and sometimes even more. Back in 2003, the Virgin Rainbow, which many consider one of the most beautiful opals in the world, was unearthed by John Dunstan, and was valued at a staggering A$1 million.

Though mostly found in its raw, white form, the most valuable opals exhibit a beautiful quality that alters angles of observed light, thereby creating an iridescent hue in red, blue, green or yellow. These colorful opals make up only a tiny percentage of all opals in the world.

Down Under

Where do you find these magnificent gems then, you ask? Head to the Australian Outback, which provides almost all of the world’s opal supply, where a small Australian town called Coober Pedy provides nearly all of the Australian supply. Most of its 1,700 inhabitants make their living through opal mining.

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Dangerous Adventure

Indeed, whilst the possibility of finding a beautiful opal can prove especially rewarding, so too is the danger that comes from opal mining. The unpredictable pursuit includes digging random holes and lowering yourself down deep, narrow shafts stretching up to 20 meters, risking the likelihood of plunging down to injury or even death. Furthermore, while the general location of an opal deposit is no secret, discovering one is almost random, since opals are hidden in some rocks that lie amongst other similar looking ones.

Anyone Can Mine Opals

Given the rather high incidence of existing shafts and tunnels leftover from previous industrial mining operations, you don’t really need heavy, expensive machinery to start your own mining adventure – anyone can do it. But beware of entering old shafts as they can be very dangerous – not only could there be a lack of oxygen, the nasty tunnels might even be flooded. 

Of course, given these disclaimers, some still find the hazards worth its potential rewards.

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