Three mines breach coal dust levels

THE re-emergence of black lung has not been enough to encourage a quarter of Queensland coal mines to keep their dust limits under the legal threshold.

Three Queensland coal mines are under government orders to reduce their coal dust level despite having been under the limit earlier this year.

The Queensland Government confirmed one quarter of Queensland's coal mines have been found with dust levels higher than the regulatory limit.

A Department of Natural Resources and Mines spokesman said they had been ordered to reduce the dust exposure.

"Three of Queensland's 12 operating underground coal mines are currently under a directive to reduce dust exposure to below the regulatory limit and as low as reasonably achievable," he said.

The department is prevented by law from disclosing which mines are in breach.

Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche said he understood all mines tested below the limit earlier this year.

"Industry is working hard to address what is a very complex issue, one where higher dust levels can be caused by any number of reasons throughout the production cycle," he said.

"Coal companies implement a number of stringent measures to limit dust and protect workers. Industry is also supportive of the proposed regulatory changes to the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation and the development of two new recognised standards on Monitoring Respirable Dust and Silica in Coal Mines and Underground Respirable Dust Control."

The department spokesman said the inspectors had the power to suspend a mine's operations if they believed the mine did not have an effective safety and health management system in place.

But because of restrictions in the legislation, the department is unable to disclose what actions inspectors had taken.

The CFMEU could not be reached for comment. - ARM NEWSDESK