Alcohol ban threatens to transform Australian opal-mining outpost into ghost town

The opal-mining township of Mintabie, situated on Aboriginal land at the northern edge of South Australia, could become deserted following the introduction of new laws requiring police checks of residents and prohibiting alcohol consumption in households.

According to Mark Schliebs writing in the Australian, the new laws have been introduced in response to long-standing accusations that Mintabie residents have been selling drugs and alcohol to local Aboriginals, which has had a ruinous impact upon their communities.

Lee Craggs, president of the Mintabie Miners Progress Association, says that the alcohol bans and check requirements would cause many of the tiny opal township’s 200 residents to desert it.

The new laws were introduced on July 1, and according to Cragg have not yet been fully enforced by local authorities. A spokeswoman for the state government’s Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division has said that officers would soon be sent to nearby Umuwa to ensure full implementation of the new regime.