Other Methods

 

The first: The cheapest and simplest with "?"


Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor at Coober Pedy.

 
 

Some locals spend their nights on the opal fields raking the slag heaps in the hope of making a fortune. 
In one hand, a UV tube connected to a battery or a generator. In the other, a rake.

Usually they ask permission from the mine owner.
 Sometimes not....
The investment is minimal but they spend a huge amount of time often finding nothing of consequence.
 But sometimes...

I spent a whole night with a group of people whose leader was a very funny and friendly man. It was an instructive night as I had a lot of discussions with mister X.

 
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The second: The boldest and most dangerous
 with Jurgen

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.

 

It takes a certain amount of courage and recklessness to descend like Jurgens into old mines that have been abandoned for a long time, sometimes for more than thirty years.

 
 

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.

 
 

Mines still partially collapsed and totally weakened by time. Mines still partially collapsed and totally weakened by time. You stop breathing when you realise that most of the pillars are sheared off and threaten to break at any moment.

 

 
 

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.

 
 

Jurgens trots like an ibex in the places where one can still barely stand and slithers like a snake through the narrow gutters that remain at collapse level

The place is huge. Galleries go off in all directions. A real maze. It's a bit scary and I wonder how we're going to find the exit saft. That's the only reason why I don't let it out of my sight. 
You need to have a good sense of direction because this mine is gigantic. Used to drawing machine plans and dugouts with 3D software, he assimilates the mine plan with surprising ease. This is reassuring. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a plan like the London Underground in his mind

I'm completely lost. And then he stops. He looks at the walls of the gallery. Then he goes into the next gallery and does the same thing. He snoops and scans and fidgets like a fox that has smelled its prey. It even seems to me that he is looking through the rock. And suddenly his eyes freeze like those of a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car. Could he have heard the muffled warning of a collapse? He points his finger at the wall. Is he looking for vibrations. When the wise man points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger. So I look him in the eye and I read in gothic characters (he is German) the words Opals, Greed and BINGO in capital letters

 
 

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.

 
 

He then bends down to open this mysterious and heavy aluminium box that he has been carrying around for an hour. He pulls out a rather indefinable thing. A wave gun?  Something straight out of the movie Ghostbuster? A lightning rod? 
No, it's a tool he invented and made himself. A goldsmith's work. The instrument allows him to drill into the rock and to go and find opals, sometimes very far away. All he has to do is insert one of his "twists" one after the other as the drilling progresses. And his system works. I've seen him pull out opals as big as his thumb that are three times the size of mine.
All this is the result of a perfect knowledge of opal formation, his tools, a good dose of courage, a dash of greed and a very good 3D vision with only two eyes. (fortunately)

 
 
Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.
 
 

During drilling, turn off the headlamps. Only the light of the UV tube remains. And then suddenly, we see a cascade of opals coming out of the hole. It is very surpising

 

 
 

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy. 

 

Jurgens is nevertheless very careful.

He knows how to keep a cool head like James dean in "Rebel without a cause" and to stop in time, as shown by the two cars decorating his property.

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.

This way of mining gives him a boost, a way to break up his mining activity a bit.

He has a classic underground mine with blower, tunneling machine, generator and all the rest.

Other opal mining methods. Coober Pedy. Photos by Dominique Houyet. Photographic Art Gallery "The Broken Propellor" at Coober Pedy.         

Others topics about opal mining

Photos dominique Houyet
Photographic Art Gallery the Broken Propellor
Coober Pedy