Mining union's black lung disease levy flagged


COAL mines would be slugged with a new levy to help victims of black lung disease, potentially stinging companies hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, under a proposal put forward by the powerful mining union.

The CFMEU put forward a motion to create a fund to support victims and their families who have been diagnosed with black lung and other dust related diseases at the Labor State Conference at the weekend.

The motion, which proposes coal companies pay a levy of $0.01 for every tonne of coal produced each week, was carried.

While the motion is not binding, CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District President Stephen Smyth said it was an acknowledgment the idea had support.

Stephen Smyth from the CFMEU. (AAP Image/Steve Pohlner)
Stephen Smyth from the CFMEU. (AAP Image/Steve Pohlner)

However when asked whether he thought mining companies would be open to it, he said, "I think they'll fight tooth and nail against it".

"But we're talking about 1 cent/tonne," he said.

Based on an annual production of 40 million tonnes, a company could pay upwards of $400,000 a year.

The State Government will report back at next year's conference about the proposal.

A similar motion was passed at the LNP's conference last month, which called on an incoming LNP State Government to introduce a levy on all coal extracted to help black lung victims.

Queensland Resources Council chief Ian Macfarlane said at this stage, the body didn't see why an additional levy was needed or how it could be administered.

"But we're happy to have that discussion with them (union)," he said.

"We obviously want to have a discussion with the minister as well."

QRC chief Ian Macfarlane. (AAP image, John Gass)
QRC chief Ian Macfarlane. (AAP image, John Gass)

Mr Smyth, who said the union put forward the motion on behalf of a black lung victims group, said the fund could be used to pay for travel costs for medical consultations, rehabilitation costs and counselling among other things.

He also said he believed the proposal could happen, with ongoing lobbying now needed.

"We're not talking about $1/tonne or $10/tonne, we're talking about a small figure," he said.