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"Black lung" returns to Australian coal mines.

SyDNEY (CyHAN)- Australian coal miners have walked off the job on Queensland mines as fears over the resurgent "black lung" disease, 30 years after it was supposedly eradicated.

Queensland (QLD) authorities confirmed on Tuesday three cases of pneumoconiosis or "black lung" had been reported by the state's coal industry this year.

However Australia's mining union, the CFMEU told local media on Wednesday the return of the disease, which has a long latency period, caused by long term exposure to coal dust in areas with poor ventilation, has sent shockwaves through the industry.

"Workers will walk off mines for their own health," CFMEU Queensland District President Steve Smyth said.

"Right now we don't know how far this disease has spread and continuing to work in conditions that cause black lung will put more people's lives at risk."

Coal miners in the state are required to undergo a medical assessment prior to commencing work and then at least once every five years, though the QLD Department of Natural Resources and Mines' has been ordered to undertake a review into current medical assessment methodologies, Mines minister Anthony Lynham said.

Smyth said the three cases revealed on Tuesday could be the beginning, fearing the regulatory and health screening system had been compromised.

"There is no way to judge the size of the problem affecting coal mine workers in Queensland, or for how long it has been an issue because the regulatory system has broken down and the medical specialists don't exist in Australia to deal with it," Smyth said.

Lynahm however was confident the government would work with industry to improve safety, stressing lung diseases are diagnosed early. (Cihan/Xinhua) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Dec 2, 2015
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