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

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Land Release for Opal Mining –  Former Water Reserve Coober Pedy

On 16 March 2017, the South Australian Government will release three parcels of land on the Coober Pedy Precious Stones Fields, enabling opal miners to recommence prospecting in an area that has been set aside for four decades.

The three sections of land lie within the Coober Pedy Precious stone fields, and in recent decades were excluded from opal mining and set aside as water bore reserves.  

The return of the land for opal mining has been agreed as part of the 2015 negotiations of the Indigenous Land Use Agreement over the Coober Pedy Precious Stones Fields.  

Given the interest in the release areas, the South Australian Government is officiating a progressive ballot for the pegging of claims.  The ballot is designed to ensure a fair and equitable process for all miners wishing to peg claims in the area.  

The ballot will be conducted at Shell Patch Diggings with the first draw at 9.00 am. The area will be open for inspection prior to the draw so pegging locations can be identified. Draws will be conducted by the Opal Mining Registrar and supervised by the South Australian Police.Land Release for Opal Mining - Water Reserves Map

The three sections combined total 1.65 km2.

1.  Section 752 - (Shellpatch Bore)

2.  Section 753 - (Sputnik Bore)

3.  Section 756 - (Stuart Range No 7 Bore)

Holders of current precious stones prospecting permits will be eligible and must register their interest with the Mining Regulation – Opal Field Office, Hutchinson Street, Coober Pedy to participate in the draw.  Once drawn successful parties will be required to peg claims immediately.  The draw will be completed progressively until all numbers are drawn or there is no further land available for pegging.

For further details of the registration/draw process, please contact the Mining Regulation - Opal Field office on (08) 8672 5800.

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.
    Fees from 1 July 2014
How to obtain a permit and the basic requirements to prospect and mine for opal are outlined in:

Opal fields in South Australia

Opal field (year discovered)Permit requiredAreaLocationInformation for tourists
Proclaimed precious stones fields263 km2Surrounds the town of Andamooka, approx. 35 km east of Roxby Downs, approx. 250 km north of Port Augusta via WoomeraAccomodation available in Andamooka and Roxby Downs
Coober Pedy
Proclaimed precious stones fields4954 km2On the Stuart Highway 550 km north of Port AugustaCoober Pedy is a modern town with all amenities and tourist facilities
Mintabie endorsed proclaimed precious stones fields
Permit to travel to Mintabie township
213km2On the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankuntjatjara Lands 32 km west of MarlaAccess to Mintabie is restricted
What you need to know about mining or residing in Mintabie
Stuart Creek
Proclaimed precious stones fields25km2Approx. 58 km north of AndamookaOnly 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 stationsNo opal mining is permitted without a valid Native Title Mining Agreement-Six negotiated diggings over the two pastoral stationsIt 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 of State Development's 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.

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For more information, contact:

Ashley Wood
Manager Opal Fields Program
Phone: +61 (8) 8678 9059

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

Mintabie Post Office
9.00 am to 1.00 pm Monday to Friday, closed on public holidays