Stanley Wilson from Burrum Heads - former miner at the Burrum coalfields.
Stanley Wilson from Burrum Heads - former miner at the Burrum coalfields. Alistair Brightman

Miner: Coal dust stuffed my lungs

FOR four decades Stanley William Wilson worked in the Fraser Coast's Burgowan coal mines.

Today, he struggles to breathe and walk more than a few metres without a break.

In 2013 doctors thought he had lung cancer, but when that diagnosis came back negative Mr Wilson was told inhaling coal dust and years of smoking caused his emphysema.

As a teenager he worked checking the Number Seven mine's coal train wagon's fill levels.

When he was 16 he rode empty coal wagons into the Fraser Coast underground mine and helped bring them up full. At 18 he dug coal with a pick and a shovel in tunnels just a metre tall.

He then moved to the Number 12 mine where coal was blasted with explosives instead of being picked out. He worked in the mines until they closed in 1997.

In a submission to the Queensland parliamentary inquiry into Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis, Mr Wilson said his breathing deteriorated about 15 years after he stopped work.

"In March 2013 I was sent to see a specialist. My referring doctor thought I had lung cancer but this was not so," he said.

"I was told my emphysema was caused by smoking and by coal dust in my lungs.

"I live 40 metres from the beach but am unable to walk along it. I must drive even short distances to the shop and post office," he said.

- GEOFF EGAN



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