Ice hits the Bowen Basin coal fields

HEALTH and safety experts at Queensland’s Bowen Basin coal mines are bracing for an influx of methamphetamines commonly known as “ice”.
Ice hits the Bowen Basin coal fields Ice hits the Bowen Basin coal fields Ice hits the Bowen Basin coal fields Ice hits the Bowen Basin coal fields Ice hits the Bowen Basin coal fields

Drugs are being used on minesites to get a "high" and reduce the effects of fatigue.

Lou Caruana

Saliva testing for drug use, which is being advocated by unions instead of urine testing, would not be adequate to detect and manage the growing problem, Frontline Diagnostic owner Michael White reportedly told Central Queensland News .

"When there's something really nasty it's always ice and we're seeing it start to appear in the mining camps because it's a cheap cocaine," he reportedly said.

"You find the smart alecs in (mining camps) trying to sell ice.

"It cooks the brain; the high that somebody will go on when they take ice will be the best day of their life. The following day will be the worst day of their life and what happens is they take it again to get back there and that's when the brain starts to cook.

"Most ice is out of the body in four to five days, but the trouble is you haven't slept for five days."

A recent test of a mine site by Frontline Diagnostics reportedly found that up to 17% of the workforce was either using ice or other drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, or heroin.

"At one mine, we went and did a blanket test of everybody on site that day –there were 17 per cent using drugs.

"It was a shock to management but not to us. That's pretty normal for us … but after doing random testing for six months we got it down to 1.7 per cent."

White reportedly said saliva testing was a "pretty amateurish type of technology" which often failed to pick up marijuana and benzodiazepines.

"The most common drug is marijuana, right across Australia, and that's the one thing saliva is not good at," he said.

The news follows a report earlier this week that the Queensland government is warning coal miners of the potential dangers of taking workout supplements on the job to reduce fatigue after a Bowen Basin coal mining company banned its miners from taking a supplement.