DANGER: Darcy McFadden's image of an asbestos mine in Baryulgil.
DANGER: Darcy McFadden's image of an asbestos mine in Baryulgil. Contributed

Asbestos mining in Baryulgil still impacts on community

ONE of the most devastating parts of the Clarence Valley's mining history is the Baryulgil asbestos mine.

The open-cut small chrysotile asbestos mine was worked by the Bundjalung people.

Children played in the mine's tailings, dust permeated through workers' houses and tailings were spread around the community to settle the dust and provide material for roadworks.

The mine, operated by James Hardie from 1944 to 1976, was open until 1979.

In 2016, the town's history was pushed into the spotlight when Ffloyd Laurie was diagnosed with mesothelioma, developing the cancer after playing in the tailings as a child.

At the time the ABC published photos of a pile of asbestos in the playground of Baryulgil Public School.

Linda Walker, who spoke to The Saturday Paper in 2015, lived in Baryulgil for most of her life and her husband worked in the mine.

She said the men at the mine worked in appalling conditions until its closure.

Her husband, Neil, died in 1998 when he succumbed to asbestosis.

"In the end he couldn't walk, he couldn't talk," she told The Saturday Paper.

"Sometimes he couldn't sleep because he couldn't breathe and I would sit on the veranda at 2 o'clock in the morning. When you would see him like this you would pray for death because it was so painful."

According to the same article, workers in the mine were never told of the health impact.