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Qld mines in strife over dust failures

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August 11, 2017

Qld mines minister Anthony Lynham warns two mine operators they face sanctions over dust levels.

Queensland's mines minister has named and shamed four underground coal mines operated by Glencore and Anglo, warning they could be prosecuted or even shut down for failing to properly monitor dust levels.

Anthony Lynham has told parliament that Glencore's Oaky North and Oaky No.1 mines, and Anglo's Moranbah North and Grosvenor mines, have failed to meet monitoring obligations designed to protect workers from dust-related diseases such as black lung.

Dr Lynham says monitoring failures at the mines occurred in the second quarter of this year.

"Based on our knowledge of diseases caused by coal dust, it is my view that any failure to comply reflects a gross disregard of an operator's obligations to protect their workforce," Dr Lynham told parliament on Thursday night.

He says the Mines Inspectorate is issuing directives to the four mines over their safety failures.

"Under the Act, the inspectors can require a full and independent audit of the mines' safety and health management system instructions, or prosecute the mine, or close the mine," the minister said.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union says immediate action must be taken against the companies.

"The rediscovery of black lung has sent shudders through the coal industry. And here we have coal companies Glencore and Anglo at these mines who continue to obviously expose workers to high levels of dust," union spokesman Stephen Smyth has told the ABC.

"We need the inspectorate, the regulator, to come in and take some immediate action to ensure they are in compliance."

AAP is seeking comment from both companies.

Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller has accused her own government of failing to act promptly on a report about coal workers' pneumoconiosis, or black lung.

Ms Miller, who chairs the Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis Select Committee, says there's no excuse for the government's dithering.

"The committee tabled its 'Black lung, white lies' report on 29 May 2017, outlining 68 recommendations to address the systematic failures which have led to the re-identification of CWP in at least 23 workers in Queensland in recent times," she said in a statement.

"This government has still not responded to the report ... we call on the government to act immediately and adopt the Black Lung report in the interests of the health and safety of Queensland coal workers, their families and the entire Queensland Industry."

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