BHP puts up $7.6M for CQ COVID-19 testing centres

BHP will allocate $7.6 million from its recently created Vital Resources Fund to support the establishment of COVID-19 testing centres in Moranbah and Proserpine, in Central Queensland.
BHP puts up $7.6M for CQ COVID-19 testing centres BHP puts up $7.6M for CQ COVID-19 testing centres BHP puts up $7.6M for CQ COVID-19 testing centres BHP puts up $7.6M for CQ COVID-19 testing centres BHP puts up $7.6M for CQ COVID-19 testing centres

BHP will allocate $7.6 million from its recently created Vital Resources Fund to support the establishment of COVID-19 testing centres.

The company said this would ease the strain on local health facilities and increase the separation between suspected cases and the local community.

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance asset president James Palmer said the organisation was determined to play its part in the significant collective response required from businesses, governments and communities across Australia.

"While it is critical for the economy that we continue to safely operate our mines, we understand local concern about the risk of people moving into the region," he said.

BHP Mitsui Coal asset president Elsabe Muller said the resources industry was stepping up to support the economy, but would equally ensure that it was doing everything it could to protect the community.

"The health and safety of our employees, contractors and the communities in which we operate is our highest priority," she said.

"Funding these testing centres shows that we will play our part to allay any fears, and support Central Queensland during this challenging time."

Queensland mines minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the resources sector continued to step up and protect its workers and the regional communities they worked in.

"The sector has taken up the challenges of changed worked practices, of social distancing, of extra hygiene and reducing its travelling workforces, while continuing to provide pay packets for Queensland families," he said.

"I welcome this latest move to augment the existing public health services protecting communities in Central Queensland."

The $7.6 million in funding to be spent building the testing centres is the largest single investment approved in the country in the first tranche of investments from BHP's $50 million Vital Resources Fund.

To be managed by Vanguard Health, the centres will allow patients to be tested for COVID-19 after presenting with clear symptoms of the virus, or following high-risk interaction.

These centres will offer triage and testing services with a telehealth capability.

The testing centres will offer additional protection to the local community during the pandemic by keeping people who may be contagious away from other areas of hospitals and health centres, helping reduce the potential for further spread of COVID-19.

It is also expected that the new resources will provide a significant boost to local health facilities, by reducing demand on local emergency departments and doctors' clinics.

BHP's plan has been developed following extensive engagement with local health practitioners.

Vanguard Health CEO Tim Gallagher said the testing centres would continue the assistance his organisation had given public health care providers in regional Australia for more than a decade.

"We are delighted to be supporting the people of the Isaac and Whitsunday regions through these  COVID-19 testing centres, in partnership with BHP," he said.

The initial investment will enable the centres to operate for a period of six months.

Federal mines minister Keith Pitt said BHP's funding was another example of the resources sector's efforts to keep its workforce and surrounding communities safe.

"Resources companies across the country have taken extraordinary steps to protect worker's health and keep their mines operating, which is very important for the national economy," he said.

"Many staff members have left families for a long period to base themselves at mining camp sites to reduce the risk of contracting corona virus and travel.

"These actions, from both companies and workers, are going well above and beyond measures in place throughout the rest of the community.

"The result is that a vitally important part of our national economy is able to continue operating, keeping thousands of Australians in jobs."

 

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