Asbestos related illnesses continue to take a toll on the Aboriginal community of Baryulgil

February 13, 2014 at 2:06 PM

The mine at Baryulgil north west of Grafton operated from the 1940's until the late 1970's, and employed dozens of local Aboriginal workers.

Doctors working in the area are diagnosing new cases of asbestos-related illnesses regularly.

Grafton-based GP Dr Ray Jones said only a handful are still alive, but the impact of the asbestos mine on the community is still being felt.

"For the next 10 years at least, the number of cases of asbestos-related illnesses across Australia will still increase," he said.

"We're still seeing many cases of disease as a result of the asbestos that was breathed in 40 years ago in Baryulgil, when the mine was operational."

Dr Jones said it wasn't just the miners exposed to large amounts of asbestos.

"Local Aboriginal children used to be invited down to play in the pile of asbestos tailings left lying around," he said.

"[The community] used to use the asbestos made at the mine - those tailings, which were the leftovers - they used to use that around the housing in Baryugle as a landfill."