Coober Pedy News No. 42

17  October 2003

Archived copy

   Letters to Editor     

Opal Miners' Safety Fest

The fest was held in the grounds of Opal Miners Enterprises Inc. The OME Committee and volunteers cooked and served drinks. Convenor Sophia Provatidis said that this was the final event of the Safety in Opal Mining Project. She said that the series of seminars has had a positive effect in that there have been no mining fatalities in the past financial year.

Brian Underwood spoke of the Mine Rescue Squad involvement in safe mining practices and said that the high class rescue equipment of the present day is a long way from a few things chucked in the back of a ute in the 1970's.

Selected quotes from the 5th edition of "Safety in Opal Mining" leaflet:

"Pillar bashing is an example of poor mining practice. This is a particular concern, as it not only can jeopardise the stability of the mine in which it is undertaken, but also that of adjacent mines."

"Opal miners in South Australia are very innovative and proud of their accomplishments. They have developed a number of opal mining practices that could improve OH&S in the Lightning Ridge opal fields. These practices include equipment design, operation and maintenance, shaft riding, shaft bottom pillars and some mine layouts. However, as the opal mining industry has been insulated from the mainstream mining sectors, education, training and technology transfer between the opal mining sector and the mainstream sectors has been limited to date."

"Yes I know times are hard. It is getting harder to mine, when the cost of expenses required have risen. It is understandable that people will try to take short cuts to save money. But it is not justifiable to maim or kill oneself for the sake of saving a few dollars."

"Do not become complacent just because you have been using explosives a long time."

"Please make sure when you are working on your claim all your shafts are easily identifiable and safe. When you leave, make sure all the shafts have a mound of dirt around the rim, and if you happen to visit an old worked mine and you find an unmarked shaft, please shovel some dirt around it."

Barbeque conversation: Hans Herr says that in 1962 one ounce of good 8-Mile grey sold for sixty pounds, which was one month's wage, and you could buy a modest house in Adelaide then for two thousand and six hundred pounds. You could also buy 500 gallons of diesel in 1968 for sixty-eight pounds. In 1962 times were a lot simpler: the prevailing miner's equipment was pick and shovel and hand drill.

What would an OME BBQ be without Vinko!

                 Happy customers observing safe eating procedures.


Second generation Mine Rescue Squad member Darren Underwood.             

                                                                                    Testing the load bearing capacity of a rock bolt.


District Council of Coober Pedy October Meeting Agenda (Selected items)

Steve Baines: Mayor's Report:

"I reported last month that I had written to the Hon Patrick Conlon, requesting that he remove the lien that the State Government has over the Granites engines. I am pleased to advise that I have since received a letter agreeing to the removal of this lien. The Minister has also agreed to allow us to apply any income from the sale of our engines to the upgrade of the distribution system, as per ETSA Utilities Asset Inspection Report. Any further income derived from the sale will be applied to the loan that Concil took to purchase the Granites engines.

I have since witten once again to the Minister of Energy, Hon Patrick Conlon, seeking clarification between the State Government and the DCCP of the continued provision of the RAES subsidy. I also raised the matter of the $1.1M expended from general revenue to hire the Cummins engines, and requested this amount be incorporated in future subsidies. I have received a response from the Minister, and as a result have arranged for the CEO, Finance Manager and myself, as well as Wendy Campana, Executive Director of the Local Government Association of South Australia, to meet with the Minister on the morning of Wednesday October 22 in an attempt to resolve these matters formally." Steve Baines

Brian Mooney: Electricity Supply Manager's Report:

"The power station is operating in a very satisfactory manner with the control system taking care of all variations. #1 generator is currently on line with #2 on standby. #6 is operational but requires some minor adjustments to the engine governor to stabilise running revolutions.

#5 Ruston generator refit is progressing a little slower than I would have liked. This is due to circumstances which could not be observed until the engine was dismantled. Had we not taken steps to correct these unforseen problems we most certainly could not have guaranteed 100% reliability from the generator for the approaching summer season. A further delay has been caused by Ruston engine parts which we had in stock bearing the incorrect part numbers. Fortunately most items were suitable, but the unsuitable items had to be sourced from the Ruston factory in England. It must be appreciated that there was no reason to doubt the suitability of the stock spare parts which were sealed in the manufacturer's wrapper, and most certainly came with the engine at time of purchase."

The Ruston


Trevor McLeod: Chief Executive Officer's Reports: 

Long-Term Electricity Generation.

"As Council is aware, contractual negotiations are currently under way between Council and the preferred tenderer for the long-term generation of electricity in Coober Pedy. These negotiations are being undertaken on behalf of Council by the legal firm Thomson Playford.

Draft contract documents are currently being examined by Thomson Playford, Energy SA and Council, in order for comments to be made and issues raised dealt with in further negotiations.

Pursuant to Section 48 of the Local Government Act 1999, Council is required to obtain and consider a report that considers the prudential issues set out in subsection (2) of that section, before Council undertakes certain activities. The proposal for the long-term generation of electricity in Coober Pedy falls within the criteria for which a report on the prudential issues must be obtained."

Operation of the Fitzgerald Dam Quarry - Provision of Quarry Aggregate (From the Report from Trevor McLeod)

In the absence of the Acting Works Manager, the Water Supply Manager and Chief Executive Officer appraised tenders submitted by Rock & Crete Crushing Services Pty Ltd, RN & BR East, and Ellenpark Enterprises Pty Ltd. The most suitable was from RN & BR East. There have been a number of discussions with Mr East in relation to the drafting of a formal agreement, which concluded on 23rd September 2003. These matters have now been settled, with RN & BR East signing the formal agreement.

Accordingly the Agreement has now been signed under seal by the Mayor and CEO and now requires endorsement by Council.

Lisa Sutton: Environmental Health Officer's Report.


An alleged food poisoning complaint was made regarding a local restaurant. An inspection of the premises was conducted and all practices were found to be satisfactory. Evidence provided by the complainant was inadequate to implicate the business. The complainant was advised of this in writing and indicated that they did not wish to pursue the matter further.


Accommodation, 1; Swimming Pool,1; Food premises, 7.

Letters were written to all owners of premises inspected. The food premises were of a high standard and no major problems were identified."

Edward Cranswick

Even though Rex Airlines and the District Council of Coober Pedy and the South Australian Government all combined to reduce charges for the Adelaide/Coober Pedy Rex flight resulting in such an increase of passengers on that route that Rex increased their service to Coober Pedy from a 5-day/week to a 6-day, Edward Cranswick still chose to travel to Coober Pedy via a train ride from Adelaide to Manguri and then ride his pushbike 30 km of dirt road to Coober Pedy.

What else would you expect from an Australian born ex-USA Government seismologist nurd descended from a Light Horse Cavalryman!

Coober Pedy Amateur Racing Club Pics


                Resting in the yard, Coober Pedy township in the background                                                           The Winning Post

More Senior Moments  (Sent in by a reader)

Three sisters, ages 92, 94, and 96 live in a house together. One night  the 96  year old draws a bath. She puts one foot in and pauses. She yells down  the stairs, "Was I getting in or out of the bath?"  The 94-year-old yells back, "I don't know. I'll come up and see."  She starts up the stairs and pauses. Then, she yells, "Was I going up the  stairs or down?" The 92 year old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea, listening to  her  sisters. She shakes her head and says, "I sure hope I never get that  forgetful." She knocks on wood for good measure.  She then yells, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."