The Opal mining sector in western Queensland has had to contend with the Global Financial Crisis and a serious tourism slump in the last few years and has struggled as a result.
Miners and retailers in western Queensland say a lack of young people coming in to the industry has the potential to derail their multi-million dollar sector.
James Evert from the Queensland Boulder Opal Association says it has been a tough few years for the industry and the outlook continues doesn’t appear much better. He says that while the boulder opal is still renowned worldwide, encouraging young people to get into small-scale mining is a challenge.
"We're not seeing young people coming in ... and we're still relying on the old hands that have been out there for many years to supply the markets and a lot of the older hands are either passing on or moving out of the industry and we don't have enough young ones out there to get out there and create the supply," he said.
"We need the mining [industry] working at full swing. We need the people to move into these regional areas like Winton and Longreach and Barcaldine and Quilpie ... we need them out there exploring and trying to discover new deposits but because of where we are at this stage, we're not seeing young people coming in."
In an age where the youth of Australia has an abundance of choices in the job market there are quite a few industries that struggle to attract newcomers. The Australian Defence Forces have struggled for many years in this regard.
So what would attract youngsters into the Opal Mining Industry? Some say better infrastructure in the outback, others say a higher price for the Opal produced.
Perhaps the industry could revamp its tourism element to attract visitors to short term mining agreements, but it would be a sad day for all concerned if the industry were to wither away to nothing from a lack of miners.