NSW coal mining to lower respirable dust exposure earlier than planned

The New South Wales Government is bringing forward the new exposure standard for respirable coal dust nearly two years ahead of the national transition date.

The state will implement a lowered coal dust standard of 1.5 milligrams per cubic metres starting February next year instead of December 2022.

New South Wales will concurrently apply a diesel particulate matter (DPM) exposure standard of 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre, the first mining jurisdiction in Australia to do so.

This follows nearly a decade of the state’s mining industry guidance advising operators to comply.

“The decision to fast-track these more stringent standards for coal dust exposure was an easy one and is a great example of mine workers, mine operators and government working together to ensure we have robust frameworks in place to address this insidious disease,” the state’s Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for resources John Barilaro said.

The new standards are expected to further reduce workers’ risk of contracting pneumoconiosis – or black lung disease.

New South Wales Resources Regulator is also working with the state’s mine safety advisory council (MSAC), which is made up of employers, unions and government, on further guidance around dust.

This will be released over the coming months.