Another Queensland worker diagnosed with black lung

The number of mine workers diagnosed with black lung in Australia has risen, with the 20th case confirmed in Queensland.

This latest case has affected a worker from the Moranbah North Colliery underground mine.

It comes shortly after a worker from an underground coal mine in central Queensland was diagnosed.

The CFMEU said these cases highlighted the need for urgent industry action to provide compensation and support to diagnosed workers and their families.

CFMEU mining and energy district president Stephen Smyth said the mining industry should take responsibility for the disease and be the main driver of action to prevent further diagnoses.

“The Black Lung crisis is escalating,” Smyth said.

“We’ve now reached 20 victims of the disease – and this number will certainly grow in coming months.”

“With more than 29,000 coal miners in this state alone, there are possibly thousands more cases.”

The union is calling for a black lung victims fund through a 10c per tonne of coal produced in Queensland levy.

“This levy represents a tiny fraction of the profits mining giants make each year from coal production,” Smyth said.

“It’s the least they can do to alleviate some of the pain they’ve caused their workers and victims of the disease.”

The current coal dust limits in Queensland is 3mg/m3 of air, higher than the NSW level of 2.5mg/m3 of air.

Smyth said there have been no changes to the legal dust limits in the mining industry despite the number of confirmed cases.

A number of hearings have been held throughout Queensland for the Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis select committee inquiry into the resurgence of black lung in Australia, which was welcomed by the CFMEU.

However, Smyth said tougher dust levels should be enforced.

“We need stronger laws and harsher penalties to reduce legal dust levels in the mines.  This is the only way to prevent more cases of the disease emerging in the future.”

United States black lung expert Dr Bob Cohen will travel to Queensland and visit victims of the disease.

He identified several cases of black lung in Australia despite the workers receiving clearance from Queensland medical professionals.

The current black lung case has been referred to the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

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