Broken River Mining’s environmentally-friendly practices represent the future of mining
by Daniel Maluka
When it comes to an inheritance, physical things are often the first that come to mind. However, for Susan Cooper, the most valuable thing passed down to her was not physical—her father was an “avid gem and mineral collector,” and his passion became hers. This passion was instrumental in the establishment of her thriving family business, Broken River Mining.
Not only is Cooper passionate about her business—she is a proud Australian native. Cooper feels a direct connection to the land that she mines, as well as the rare Australian boulder opal that Broken River produces.
Cooper has been around gems all of her life, and therefore understands the unique beauty and intrinsic value of Australian boulder opal. She defines her success as being able to share and celebrate the beauty and the unique stories of her stones.
According to Cooper, these gemstones are made unique by “their vibrant colours, intriguing patterns and the way those colours and patterns dance in the light.”
A passionate process
With gem and mineral corporations, the processes of extraction, development, and sale are often segmented, resulting in a loss of the distinct stories associated with each stone. Broken River Mining maintains these stories by unifying all of the usually separate processes.
The opal that Broken River Mining sells are stones that they have mined and processed themselves. This ground-up approach means that they can often let the consumer know the exact location and mining district where their stone was found. This removes any ethical issues a consumer may have when purchasing a gemstone.
Typically, Cooper mines these unique stones herself. The Australian summer only permits mining to occur for six to eight months of the year. Because of the large land mass of Australia, the process of self-excavation is the most arduous step for Broken River Mining. What’s more, the area in which Cooper usually mines is six hours away from the closest town or post office. However, for Cooper and her family, it is worth not hiring outside help and segmenting the process.
Broken River Mining’s independence effectively removes the need for a middle man, guaranteeing ethically- and responsibly-mined goods.
“This also allows us to respond directly to our clients’ needs,” adds Cooper. “Too often, opals will change hands so many times that their origins and stories are lost.”
While their opals’ origins and stories are significant to Broken River, the effect their mining has on the Australian landscape is an important cornerstone of their approach. Environmental considerations also shape who Broken River Mining chooses to hire. Cooper only considers induvials with “strong ethics and environmental values.” Since the owners of the company are based in Australia, they have a clearly defined give-and-take relationship with the land. Cooper reiterates that, “We also strive to go beyond government regulations to be environmentally conscious, and endeavor to minimize any lasting degradation of the environment where we undertake our mining activities.”
Onwards and Upwards
Since Broken River Mining was first established in 1996, the world has changed drastically. What was once a small-scale company with one mining lease and clientele limited to Australia has now expanded internationally. Social media and e-commerce are commonplace in the business world and are necessary in order to remain competitive. Now, physical limits only occur during the mining process itself due to Broken River Mining’s ability to embrace online platforms.
“It’s terrific to get comments from people across the globe and to be part of this incredibly generous, supportive community united by a common love of opal,” notes Cooper. “Now, with the amazing advances in digital technology we can directly service our growing client base, from outback Australia to amazing locations like Canada.”
After CJexpos in Toronto and Edmonton, Broken River Mining will attend the Denver Gem and Mineral Show in September and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in early 2018.
One thing’s for sure: the future of Broken River Mining is as bright as their stones.