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Two new cases of black lung, union says

The CFMEU has revealed two more central Queensland miners have been diagnosed with black lung disease, news the Department of Natural Resources and Mines has denied.

District president Stephen Smyth told The Daily Mercury the two men had received official diagnoses in the past two weeks.

“They’re pretty upset and rightly so… They sort of haven’t comprehended it yet,” he said of the workers, who had both worked in the mines for more than 20 years.

The deadly respiratory disease,  caused by excessive fine coal dust inhalation, was thought to be eradicated in Australia almost three decades ago. But with eight miners now diagnosed, and several more expected to be given a diagnosis, the mining industry is now asking whether it truly was eradicated.

Mr Smyth did not confirm which mines the men worked at, but said the recently reported cases of black lung disease in Queensland had prompted the men to have their chest x-rays re-checked by specialists.

A Department of Natural Resources and Mines spokesperson could not confirm the two new cases, claiming the number of workers diagnosed with black lung remained at six.

“A confirmed case is where a positive identification of coal worker’s pneumoconiosis has been reported… by the coal mine worker’s nominated medical advisor or other medical expert and validated by the department’s occupational physician,” the spokesperson told the Daily Mercury.

Earlier this month, the union predicted that 16 per cent of coal mine workers will have the deadly black lung as it is revealed that hundreds of thousands of x-rays have not been processed.

A Senate inquiry into the return of the deadly lung disease is currently investigating why the disease has made a comeback.

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