Cutting coal underground at Oaky Creek Mine. Photo Contributed
Cutting coal underground at Oaky Creek Mine. Photo Contributed Contributed

CQ mining firm to provide chest X-rays for worried workers

UPDATE: GLENCORE has responded to union claims it forced employees at Oaky North coal mine in Central Queensland to go back to work or risk losing their jobs as entirely fabricated.

On Thursday, the CFMEU claimed there were reports Glencore had handed down the ultimatum after miners raised concerns about their health and walked off the job on Tuesday following revelations Black Lung disease had reemerged in Queensland.

A Glencore spokesman said employees at Oaky North mine returned to work on Thursday night after workers raised concerns about new cases of pneumoconiosis (Black Lung) in QLD underground mines.

"Oaky North mine is one of two underground operations (Oaky North Mine and Oaky No.1) at Glencore's Oaky Creek complex in central Queensland," the spokesman said.

"Work at the Oaky No. 1 underground mine has continued without disruption. None of the reported cases of pneumoconiosis involve Glencore's underground operations."

The spokesman said the health and safety of their workforce has always been Glencore's top priority and they appreciate the concerns raised by employees about the issue.

"After spending time listening to our employees yesterday, we have undertaken to provide the following across the Oaky Creek complex," the spokesman said.

"Chest X-rays will be provided for all employees who request them, starting from today (Friday), and a further review of all chest X-rays taken within the last six months.

"All chest X-rays to be viewed and read by a qualified radiologist who is a member of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists and has the necessary competencies.

"There will be refresher training in dust and the correct use of PPE (and) education and training in relation to dust diseases, including pneumoconiosis."

The spokesman also said the Chief Inspector of Coal Mines in Queensland had confirmed that all specialist radiologists in Queensland are trained to accurately read chest X-rays to the International Labour Organisation Standard Classification of Radiographs, and this has also been confirmed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

"Glencore will also continue to support and participate in research into best-practice industry dust control," he said.

 

 

CENTRAL Queensland mine workers have been given the ultimatum to go back to work or risk losing their jobs despite a Black Lung disease outbreak according to the CFMEU. 

Two CQ miners have already been diagnosed with the deadly disease. 

The CFMEU today claimed there were reports mining companies in Queensland have handed down the ultimatum after many miners raised concerns about their health and walked off the job yesterday following revelations Black Lung disease had reemerged in the state. 

The CFMEU claimed Glencore told workers at the Oaky Creek coal complex, located between Tieri and Middlemount, they must return underground to work or risk losing their jobs. 

The Oaky Creek mine has two underground operations and a coal preparation plant with the underground operations described by Glencore as modern, state of the art longwall operations with associated development works. 

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District President Steve Smyth, said while some mining companies were taking the issue seriously and acting with consideration, others clearly have no regard whatsoever for their workers health and safety.

"After what we've learnt this week about the reemergence of Black Lung, forcing workers back down underground against their wishes shows a stunning disregard for Australian employees health and safety," Mr Smyth said.

"It is completely understandable that workers have concerns about their health and safety under the circumstances and companies who try to ignore or duck the issue should be condemned.

"Can you imagine the conversation these blokes are having with their families before they are forced back into the mine?

"There are going to be two sides to this - those mining companies that take ownership and want to be part of the solution, and those who don't. We're already seeing who is lining up where."

Mr Smyth continued to call for an open and transparent public inquiry into the reemergence of Black Lung disease, saying mining companies, regulators and authorities needed to work with the community to first understand the regulatory and company failures before coming up with the solution.

"Victims, mining workers, their families and communities deserve an opportunity to be part of a full public process, including hearings in affected mining towns," Mr Smyth said.

"This problem is not of the current Queensland Government's making and we want to work with them to fix the legacy issues they now confront, but it has to be a proper open process."

The Morning Bulletin has this morning approached Glencore for a response to the CFMEU allegations. 



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