Queenslander Keith Stoddart can barely lift a bucket of water after spending three decades working underground as a coal miner.
The 69-year-old was diagnosed with black lung three years ago and travelled to Melbourne to demand more assistance for sufferers from BHP and other mining companies.
“I can’t hardly carry a bucket of water,” Mr Stoddart told AAP on Friday.
“My future is not looking real bright, you know.”
The former miner said a few years ago he was still working underground like a 30-year-old, but now feels closer to 90.
The disease, called pneumoconiosis, is a potentially fatal disease caused by prolonged exposure to coal dust and there is no known cure.
Another black lung sufferer Steve Mellor said he’s received no help from his former employer and was forced to stop working once he was diagnosed.
“They tell you to go away and die, basically,” he said.
They are both part of the Mine Dust Diseases Victims Group, which rallied on Friday in Queensland and tried to meet with BHP executive Andrew Mackenzie in Melbourne.
Dozens of union members and victims were among a group that rallied outside the company’s Collins Street head office calling for change.
The group wants a funding program for victims and their families once workers compensation payments finish.
Former coal miner and Queensland state MP Jim Pearce said more than 100 Queensland mine workers have been diagnosed with dust diseases and the number grows each month.
The group is proposing a one cent per tonne, per week levy on coal produced go into the fund for sick workers and their families.
In a statement BHP said the incidence of mine dust diseases amongst its workers “has been deeply disturbing” for the mining giant.
“BHP has been actively monitoring and managing Coal Mine Dust Lung Diseases exposure at our sites for many years to prevent people from contracting these diseases, and our internal dust exposure limits are more stringent than regulatory limits anywhere in the country,” a spokesman said.
The spokesman said BHP was supportive of reforms to the Workers’ Compensation Act to ensure there is appropriate support for those diagnosed with such diseases and is working with the Queensland government on prevention plans.