Latest Tales from Andamooka
Last week one of my Andamooka mining friends called me and said that one of
his countrymen, 76 years old, was packing up to go back to Europe. He was
prepared to quit all of his current stock at a bargain price.
I spoke to the old guy because he was supposed to be a bit of an old fox,
and it seemed that it would be worth going to Andamooka to pick up all of
his matrix at least.
After much haggling and going back to our hotel for the night, seeing him
again in the morning and not being able to arrive at a price, later on
leaving the town my friend urged me to go in once again because he said he
saw in his eye he really did want to sell, but just couldn't accept the
price that I was offering.
To cut a long story short after coffees, pictures of the 76 year old's
girlfriend in Europe, vivid descriptions of what may be taking place when
he arrives home, we finally arrived at a deal. Australian Opal Mines
secured 475 ounces of matrix. Now this is a huge quantity to have in
I also got him to throw in as part of the deal 170 specimens, actually
'painted ladies' from Andamooka.
It was lucky I was in my pickup truck because it filled a lot of the back
of the pickup truck.
The logic behind securing such large stock is that there are only fifteen
genuine mining gangs in Andamooka now, and there is only one bulldozer.
The bulldozer was sitting idle the day that I was there, and when I asked
my mate why he wasn't working he said he couldn't afford the fuel. He had
to wait for other miners to pay him to do cash cuts - he charges $150 per
hour - to push other peoples claims.
Many of these genuine gangs take
time off to go and work in Roxby Downs, which is a uranium and gold mine
closeby. They get $1,000 per week. The guys often question themselves,
why do they work so hard in their own opal mines getting nothing when they
can go and mine for uranium and be guaranteed $1,000 per week.
As they are all gamblers they go there for a while, get a bit of a stake
and then go back to their mine.
I am telling you this because anyone who knows a little bit about opal will
probably have heard of Andamooka treating matrix. The whole world wants
it, but there are now only fifteen gangs producing it.
The best Andamooka
matrix in the rough used to sell many years ago for about $100 per oz.
Now it is up to $500 per ounce. I have heard of matrix being sold in
jewellery stores in Arizona for $160 per carat. $80 per carat these days
is common, and particularly after the Koreans came out and bought up all
the matrix that was available, because it looks so much like black opal.
I don't expect to sell all of my matrix in the next few months, in fact I
won't be offering it all. I intend to put a lot of it in a safe and just
leave it there because of the supply and demand. I can't think of any
opal I have got, and that includes black opal, that is going up as fast as
Andamooka treating matrix.
The material I have will sell for between $75 and $400 per oz. I will be
happy to send you an ounce or two on approval if you would care to look,
together with a receipt as to how to treat it.
Whilst I was in Andamooka I also purchased a few other parcels and some
magnificent Lightning Ridge blacks. In fact one stone weighs .6 oz. and at only
$35,000 per oz., which is a gift for red on black, the stone is only
$21,000. It has some little brothers ranging between $700 and $7,000
Feel free to email us or call us to discuss the viewing or purchase of any
of the above. We will be more than happy to pass these absolute bargains
on to you.
If you missed my last letter, be sure to see the tales from Coober Pedy.
If you would like to read more about Andamooka matrix, just see this article.
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Last modified: July 8, 2004