Miner allowed underground despite signs of black lung

A FORMER Oaky North underground coal miner was given the all-clear to keep working underground in 2009 despite black lung being "clearly" visible on an x-ray.

The Queensland Parliamentary inquiry into Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung, heard the mine's nominated medical adviser incorrectly diagnosed the problem as a different chest disease when the worker moved from a Mt Isa mine to Glencore's Oaky North mine.

The worker was then allowed to work underground and was exposed to more coal dust. He was diagnosed with black lung in 2015.

Black lung disease was not diagnosed well
Black lung disease was not diagnosed well Contributed

Speaking at the inquiry Glencore health and safety director Kylie Ah Wong said the company had investigated how the case was missed.

"With that particular case there was clearly an issue with the chest x-ray," she said.

"It wasn't diagnosed as coal workers pneumoconiosis which is why he was allowed to return underground.

"That NMA ... is not with us any longer."

The inquiry heard a fourth former Glencore worker has been diagnosed with black lung. In an earlier submission to the inquiry Glencore said three former workers had confirmed black lung cases.

But Glencore chief operating officer Ian Cribb said they had recently learnt a former contractor who worked at the Oaky Number One and Oaky North mines had been diagnosed with black lung.

"We were recently notified by common law action that we were nominated as one of four or five places he had worked," he said.

The inquiry heard the Glencore workers who have been diagnosed with black lung have been moved into other roles away from coal dust - but have been kept on the same pay as they were in the mines.

Mr Cribb told the inquiry the mine had contacted 76 former employees since late 2016 offering them chest x-rays to check for black lung. He repeatedly told the inquiry those were all the employees who had left the underground mines since Glencore took control of them in 2003.

The inquiry will hear from Peabody Energy and BHP representatives on Friday.

ARM NEWSDESK



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