18 more miners suspected of having black lung

ABOUT 20 Queensland miners will undergo tests for black lung after American reviews of x-rays found signs of the disease.

A sample of 257 scans were sent to be reviewed with 18 found to have signs of the debilitating disease.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the number of tests that needed to be reviewed concerned him.

"Any case is very serious to me," he said. "We know we are going to see other cases."

There are 11 confirmed cases of the disease in Queensland.

A Monash University report, released on Wednesday, found there had been "clear deficiencies" in the overall process of detecting black lung.

Dr Lynham said the government would implement every recommendation made in the report.

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said the mining industry was committed to ending black lung.

"Industry is appalled at the apparent failure across the spectrum of screening, from lung function tests, chest x-rays through to questions over the qualifications and expertise of those carrying out the testing and screening," he said.

"So far, 11 Queensland miners have been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, which is 11 too many, and the Monash University review report suggests there may potentially be more cases."

CEOs from Queensland's eight underground coal mining companies wrote a letter to Dr Lynham committing to "providing our employees with a safe workplace".

They said miners with a chest x-ray from the last two years could have it re-examined according to new standards and offered new x-rays to workers with scans more than two years old.

But Queensland's maximum coal dust levels will not be changed unless a Safe Work investigation recommends it.

But he said he believed coal dust limits should be the same nationally and he would be taking the issue to the next Council of Australian Governments meeting.

This is despite Queensland maximum levels being higher than those in NSW or internationally.

He said Queensland would follow any Safe Work Australia recommendations regarding coal dust when they completed a review. - ARM NEWSDESK

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