Opal Miners

We, at Absolute Opals & Gems (Australia), are second generation Opal Miners, Gem Cutters and Wholesalers, proudly specialising in Australian Black Opal, directly from the mines.


You will find us located in the heart of the busy mining town of Lightning Ridge New South Wales , approx. 750 km or 468 miles, north west of Sydney, Australia.


Lightning Ridge, or ‘The Ridge’, as it is fondly referred to by locals, is renowned for the largest production of quality Black Opal in the World!

The illusory mystique of ‘The Ridge’ has lured many a hopeful miner over the past 100 years coming to try their luck at finding the “big one”. While some have fortuitously struck it rich, others continue the search, resolute in their quest for that elusive prize: top quality “red on black”.

Our display of a full and complete range of Lightning Ridge Black Opal in all its magnificent forms, a strong mining and buying presence on the Opal Fields, an experienced and knowledgeable team, and a genuine love of all the entire range of opal and associated industry, makes Absolute Opals & Gems well worth a visit, if you too appreciate the wonders of Australia’s National Gem Stone… Opal.

Lightning Ridge is a town in north-western New South Wales, Australia.

In Walgett Shire, near the southern border of Queensland, 5 km off the Castlereagh Highway.

Opal Mining is the main activity of the town

Lightning Ridge is a flourishing tourist town with numerous accommodation options.

Temperatures in summer can exceed 45 Celsius

Below ground the temperature is 22 degrees, year round.

 Lightning Ridge is a world-renowned centre of the mining of black opals.

Lightning Ridge has the largest known deposits of quality black opals in the world.


Absolute Opals & Gems Pty Ltd is a second generation mining enterprise.

Here are some images of our mining activity:

Prospecting drill shown here

opal miners

We prospect for opal with a 9 inch auger drill. When promising material is discovered we drill a 3 foot diameter shaft down to a depth that bottoms on the opal bearing level.

When, what appears to be payable material is found, we lower a mechanical digger down the shaft.

Underground digger shown here.

opal mining

The dirt is extracted by a “blower” which in reality is more akin to a giant vacuum cleaner.

Truck and blower shown here;

opal miners

When the truck is full, it is taken to the “agitator”- a modified cement mixer- where the extracted dirt is washed for the duration of the mining week. Up to 10 truckloads of dirt go into each batch of wash, which wears down and accumulates into a concentrate by the end of the week.

Agies shown here.

opal mine lightning ridge

Then, we just manually sort through the washed clean concentrate called “tailings”, to pick out the gems, often none, but once every few years hard work is rewarded by discovering a pocket of truly beautiful gems!

 Rough opal shown here.

black opal rough lightning ridge

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opal miner lightning ridge

opal miner lightning ridge black opal rough

rough black opal nobby lightning ridge australia

Then it is off to the cutting and polishing room.

Cutting room shown here.

cutting room

Black Opal Bar

Many people come to Lightning Ridge for weeks at a time on holiday to fossick through the dumped material where valuable opals are sometimes missed by the miners.

Lightning Ridge Black Opal

Fossicking for overlooked opal on abandoned mining claims is a popular activity. If you are lucky, and work hard at it, there is every chance you will find valuable opal.

Lightning Ridge Black Opal

Lightning Ridge is an important paleontological site, with fossils dating back to the Cretaceous period, 110 million years ago. The sandstone rock once formed the bottom of a shallow inland sea where the remains of aquatic plants and animals were preserved. The site is especially important as a source of fossils of ancient mammals which, at that time, were small creatures living in a world dominated by dinosaurs. The fossils are sometimes opalised and discovered by opal miners. Important discoveries at Lightning Ridge include the ancestral monotremes Kollikodon ritchiei and Steropodon galmani.


image credit

Plentiful crops of wheat are grown in the dry lakes surrounding the opal bearing ridges.

Lightning Ridge

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After a long day, you can relax in the artesian thermal pool- it is free!

Lightning Ridge Black Opal

Lightning Ridge Black Opal

We would also like to invite you to visit us at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show:

Click for Globex Red Lion Inn & Suites Opal and Gem Center (Congress/I-10, formerly named Day’s Inn)

ABSOLUTE OPALS & GEMS PTY LTD, Opal and Gem Center Tucson, Booth 3 # 4

Click here for a Google Map link

Note the venue still shows as Days Inn with Google maps.

We have a lot of new material to show you from the 2017 mining season, and look forward to chatting again!

Carl and Olga Babic

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