Anglo American coal miners walk off over black lung

Miners at Anglo American’s Grasstree coal mine have halted work over black lung safety concerns.

It follows revelations of the re-emergence of the affliction as four miners were diagnosed with the disease.

Four miners have been found to have the disease.

The cases were detected in the last three months at Queensland coal mines, two of which are at the Vale-run Carborough Downs mine and a third from near Ipswich.

"It's appalling that companies and regulatory bodies have let health standards deteriorate, putting the lives of workers at serious risk," CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said.

"This is a disease that takes hold gradually and we're extremely concerned that recent diagnoses are just the tip of the iceberg.  

"Of great concern is that Australian health and regulatory frameworks are no longer equipped to deal with the disease."  

The situation has been exacerbated by the fact local authorities do not have the qualifications or equipment to properly ascertain the likelihood of black lung, with Smyth adding that US specialists had to be used.

"There is no way to judge the size of the problem affecting coalmine workers in Queensland, or for how long it has been an issue because the regulatory system has broken down and the medical specialists don't exist in Australia to deal with it,” Smyth said.

Now workers at Grasstree have stopped work over safety concerns, according to the ABC.

"Right now we don't know how far this disease has spread and continuing to work in conditions that cause black lung will put more people's lives at risk," Smyth said.