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Coalmine dust disease victims are planning to confront BHP to ask for a fund

Photo: Coalmine dust victims want BHP fund
A victims group will visit the BHP Billiton office in Brisbane as it pushes for a fund to help workers suffering from diseases caused by dust from coalmines.

Coalmine dust disease victims are planning to confront BHP to ask for a fund to be established for black lung and silicosis sufferers.

The Mine Dust Diseases Victims Group wrote to BHP but have not received a response, so will go directly to executives in Brisbane, a spokesman says.

Jim Pearce, a former coalminer and Queensland MP, says more than 100 mineworkers in the state have been diagnosed with mine dust diseases such as black lung and silicosis.

The group fear the number is rising and that there may be many more undiagnosed cases, particularly among workers at labour hire companies that supply the big miners.
"Sadly, many workers are frightened to get tested for mine dust diseases because they are frightened of being sacked and losing their livelihoods," Mr Pearce says in a statement.

The group says doctors are reluctant to pinpoint where a disease may have been contracted, making it extraordinarily difficult for sick workers to get compensation.

A fund, they say, would help.

"It's unfair that they should have to be just left to die quietly in the corner of their home and not have the mining companies accept some responsibility," Mr Pearce says.

The Mine Dust Disease Victims Support Group wants a one cent per tonne, per week levy on coal produced to go into the fund for sick workers and their families.

"This ask is not radical or unreasonable. In the US, coal companies pay a $US1.10 per tonne levy on each tonne of coal produced to assist mine disease victims."


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