It is believed that Aborigines were the first to sell black opal from Mintabie at Coober Pedy just after the First World War. They were able to keep their secret for some time until eager miners discovered the opal field in the early 1930s. As a result of the remoteness of the area and the lack of water, Mintabie was worked only on a very small scale until 1976, when heavy earth-moving machinery moved in. The opal is sandwiched between hard layers of sandstone, and the rock layers below the ground are drilled or blasted through with explosives to enable the bulldozers to get to the opal bearing ground. This area is now producing very attractive light and semi-black opal. Mintabie black opal usually occurs on a mid-grey background therefore, although respected in the black opal markets, commands a lower price than the darker Lightning Ridge black opal.
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