Century of Shame: Queensland reaches 100 confirmed mine dust disease victims

Published: 18 Feb 2019

Over 100 Queenslanders have now been diagnosed with mine dust lung diseases such as black lung and silicosis, according to the latest figures from CFMEU Mining & Energy.

CFMEU Mining & Energy Queensland District President Steve Smyth said the true number of victims was probably much higher due to poor processes for diagnosing workers.

“Reaching 100 victims is a tragic milestone, and a shameful day for the Queensland mining industry,” Mr Smyth said.

“Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more victims of mine dust diseases that we don’t even know about.

“Factors such as the use of labour hire firms, with employees cycling through different mining sites, and a fear among casual workers that they will lose their job if they are diagnosed, means that we are only scratching the surface of the mine dust disease epidemic.”

Mr Smyth said mine dust diseases were debilitating and potentially fatal.

The consequences of contracting diseases like black lung and silicosis are profound for the victim and their family.

“Not only does it affect the victim’s capacity to work and quality of life, treatment can be very expensive.

“The fact that we now have over 100 confirmed diagnosed cases of mine dust disease in this state shows the shameful negligence of mining companies.

“The industry simply must do more to protect workers in the mines and to support them if and when they contract these deadly diseases.”

CFMEU Mining & Energy has compiled a database of 103 mine dust disease victims in Queensland, combining latest figures from the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy with additional cases confirmed by the Union.