A South African woman, Katherine du Preez, was appointed first Queensland Mine Safety and Health Commissioner in 2016, as black lung disease returns.
Australian mining currently faces re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease. Eight Queensland miners have been diagnosed with the occupational disease since late last year.
When Katherine became a mining engineer in South Africa some years ago, it was illegal for women to work underground.
She became the first South African woman to hold a mine manager’s certificate of competency.
Katherine had worked in mining for decades, and has 16 years’ experience in operational mines in South Africa and in Queensland, reported ARM Newsdesk.
She said the workplace had changed since the early 1990s, “but more needs to be done to encourage young girls to work in the mining and technology sectors.
“The more female faces we can attract in the mining industry, the more young women will see it as a career option,” she said. “I’ve never heard a young girl say ‘I want to be a mining engineer’.”
An occupational disease re-emerges in Australia
Queensland’s mining industry currently faces a black lung crisis. The Australian mining union said eight Queensland miners have been diagnosed with the disease since the discovery of its re-emergence late last year.
Ms du Preez said she wanted to be an advocate for worker safety, and work closely with industry, government and unions on the issue.
“Queensland already has a quite high safety standard. I want to maintain that,” she said.
Queensland Mining Minister Anthony Lynham said Ms du Preez had been appointed following a global search.
“Ms du Preez’s experience and expertise is welcome, as government works with unions and industry to implement its five-point action plan to tackle the re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.”
Ms du Preez is also an international figure-skating judge. As a child she skated competitively in South Africa, but was unable to compete internationally due to global sanctions against the country at the time.
She has represented Australia as a figure skating judge.
- Source; ARM Newsdesk.
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