The current state of mining in Australia.
Published On : 24 Mar 2020
For now, all major mining and oil & gas operations seem to be running smoothly.
None of the big companies have made any drastic changes. They are simply following government regulations, educating employees and providing the necessary support.
Luckily, no mine has had to minimise operations to only essential employees.
Here’s what the companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue are doing to keep their employees safe and maintain production capacity.
A $50 million fund has been created to help support regional Australian communities. Their website states that ‘it will deliver the funds into small, local and indigenous businesses by accelerating payments and reducing payment terms to seven days (from 30 days)’.
Additionally, BHP will hire 1,500 workers and offer 6-month contracts to ensure regional workers have jobs during this difficult period.
The roles will include machinery and production operators, diesel mechanics, boilermakers, trades assistants, electricians, cleaners and warehouse staff in WA, QLD, SA and NSW.
Recruitment will happen through existing labour hire partners in each state.
BHP plans on continuing to work with the government to employ 1,000 new apprentices and trainees this year.
To ensure employee safety within their operations and offices, the following measures have been taken:
- BHP has put in place a ban on international business travel for BHP employees globally.
- Domestic and international commuting continues for employees in line with country-specific advice, and some protocols have been introduced, such as flexible rostering, to assist workforce requirements.
- Gatherings of people are limited as much as possible and social distancing protocols are in place. This includes changes to how teams travel to sites, gather at the start of shifts as well as procedures in camps and how maintenance is scheduled and undertaken.
- All non-essential visits and meetings at site are being rescheduled, cancelled or will take place via virtual platforms.
- Remote working is being tested in our offices and operating centres.
BHP CEO Mike Henry said: “The health and safety of our people and the safe operation of our sites is of paramount importance. Keeping our operations running is critical for jobs, our communities and for the economy. We are not a business that can do all of our work remotely and we are fully focused on action to reduce the risk of transmission at our sites and in our offices. As COVID-19 continues to spread, we are taking additional precautionary measures to test our Business Continuity Plans. We know the situation is difficult and we are encouraging our workforce to look out for each other, their families and communities as we manage through this together.”
Rio Tinto has asked its employees globally to avoid international travel as much as possible. FIFO workers are being asked to speak to their leadership team to stay up to date with the latest.
As schools and day-cares across the country continue to be affected by the virus, employees will be allowed to work flexible hours to ensure that home duties are equally prioritised.
All Rio Tinto employees globally will have access to leading medical providers to deal with the effects of the virus and the mental stress it will cause in the coming weeks/months. Employees facing difficulty are being asked to seek help through the Employee Assistance Program.
Newmont has asked all employees to study, understand and follow the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
Their corporate office has been closed for a period of two weeks where all staff members (other than those that manage critical office systems) have been asked to work from home.
While no Newmont employees have tested positive, they are being asked to practice social distancing to reduce exposure and halt the spread of the virus.
Employees have been told to not travel to high-risk regions, avoid all travel if possible and self-quarantine themselves if they have been in contact with someone who tested positive or are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Fortescue Metals Group
FMG has put the following guidelines into place based on the recommendations provided by the relevant authorities in Australia:
- Effective midnight (AEST) on 15 March 2020, anyone who returned from an overseas destination is not to return to or visit a Fortescue site or office until a 14-day isolation period is carried out - team members can explore alternative working arrangements with their leader.
- Team members who are currently in isolation following overseas travel will continue their required isolation period.
- Effective 18 March 2020, all personal international travel should be cancelled in line with the Commonwealth Government's advice not to travel overseas.
- All work-related travel for non-operational team members, both international and domestic, will be postponed until further notice.
- All non-essential travel for non-operational team members to operational sites has been postponed until further notice.
- Instructing team members in higher risk health categories to work from home.
- A temporary rotating work in office/work from home roster for our Australian office-based team members.
- Reinforcing social distancing protocols at all our operational sites and offices.
- Additional cleaning services across all our sites, villages and offices, focussing on surfaces and items that are in regular contact with hands.
- From the 23 March 2020, all New Starter Inductions will happen online rather than face to face.
Site Skills Training
At Site Skills Training we are taking the safety of our students and staff members very seriously. To reduce exposure and minimise the spreading the virus, the following measures are being implemented:
- Students who have arrived/returned from overseas must not attend a course at Site Skills Training until they have completed 14 days of self-quarantine
· Students who have had close contact with a person with a case of COVID-19 should contact the Site Skills Training facility concerned to re-book for a later course after 14 days of self-quarantine
· Students who have any flu-like symptoms should not attend a course and should seek medical attention
· Site Skills Training employees who fall into any of the above categories should not attend work and should follow the same procedures
· Students and Site Skills Training employees should continue to exercise good hygiene practices, including:
- Cleaning hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing
- Disposing of tissues in the bin immediately
- Avoiding contact with anyone who has flu-like symptoms
Site Skills Training has also taken the following steps to mitigate the risks of “close contact” between our staff and between our students:
- The above advice is being provided to all students prior to enrolment
- Administration teams are split into smaller more isolated areas
- Trainers are designated to specific classrooms
- Contact between our trainers and administration teams minimised or eliminated
- Measures implemented to avoid congregation of students at any time, such as staggering break-times, etc.
- We are reviewing the need for Site Skills Training trainers to travel between facility locations and/or to other locations
A more detailed description of the measures we are taking can be found here.
As the situation continues to develop, we will continue to adjust how we tackle the virus.
Has the virus effected your workplace or mine site? Let us and the rest of the community know via the comments section on our related Facebook post.
If your work has come to a halt for a couple weeks, consider using this time to complete short courses and gain new skills. It gives you the chance to come out of these challenging times stronger.