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Australian Opals

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Beneath the hot skillet surface of the outback, where the baked soil crumbles like ashes, there are treasures to be found. In endless warrens of burrowing and hope, every hour of every day you can find people digging. And virtually all of these individuals are like Peter Rowe. "And I came here to make a million dollars. I heard you can make a million dollars in Coober Pedy,and I came to get my share of it. That could only be one thing. "To find opal. That's what they came here for. To find that elusive beautiful gem that sort of bounces out and says,'Hey, look at me!" The town of Cooper Pedy is home to about 3,000 people. It was built on opals. Over 90% of the world's opals come from Australia, and the first ones on this continent were discovered right here in 1911. Finding opal has been turned into as much of a science as the rock will allow. This team has been digging for a year and a half since their last significant payoff. They believes they are only a few feet away from a major find. The problem is , in this town, almost everyone, almost everyday, believes he is on the verge of finding a fortune. Something like this. These opals were all cut out of the same fist-sized piece of rock, and will sell for at least 300,000 dollars. Maybe a lot more. But here's the thing: 95% of all opal is colorless, worthless. This maze of tunnels did not produce even a dollar's worth of opal. One of the odd benefits of digging so many holes in search of opals is that some of them can be converted into homes. But it is the mother lode payoff that is on everybody's mind. "Within a mile of where we are sitting now, there could be millions of dollars. There is million of dollars. And there are stones that would knock you out. Gems that would be just astronomical. And most of them never get seen, never see the light of day." Out here where holes in the ground pass for buildings, most of people do not find their fortunes. At the end of this day, that started with so much hope, these miners came up empty again. The odds are, as long as they keep questing for opals, this will be the course of their lives. For all the hopes, dreams, and hard work, scratching a living out of the ground.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 1 second
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: National Geographic
Director: National Geographic
Views: 178
Posted by: greenbo on Mar 29, 2010

What are the chances of striking it rich?

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