Mining COVID-19 response goes national

FEDERAL mining minister Keith Pitt has brought some of Australia’s largest resources companies and key industry representative groups together to prepare a unified sectoral response to dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Resources leaders meet nationally to address COVID-19 issues.

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Those taking part were representatives from the Minerals Council of Australia, BHP, Rio Tinto, Newcrest Mining, Woodside, Shell, Santos, Senex, The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and the National Offshore Petroleum and Environmental Management Authority.

Pitt said the virtual roundtable discussed issues ranging from ensuring workers' health and safety to keeping them in jobs and putting the industry in a good position ready for the recovery.

"The health of all Australians will always be the government's priority in dealing with the coronavirus, but we must also plan to ensure a continued strong future for this critically important industry," he said.

"It was very encouraging to see all companies participating in the roundtable committed to a working on a unified industry response and some have already set aside funding to take on new workers.

Despite the impact of the coronavirus, resources and energy exports are on track to reach nearly $300 billion this financial year, surpassing the previous record by $18 billion.

"It's critical that resources operations continue and new projects commence as planned wherever possible and we are working with resources companies to ensure they can get workers in and out of regional and remote areas in accordance with health and safety requirements," Pitt said.

"The resources sector has already shown great resilience to be in such a position of strength as we head into this current health crisis. It will be key to Australia's economic recovery once the global COVID-19 pandemic has passed."

The national move is similar to a roundtable held in Western Australia by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia that included senior representatives from the likes of BHP, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue Metals Group.

MCA CEO Tania Constable said the overriding priorities and concerns for the industry remained protecting the health, safety and livelihoods of workers, contractors and communities, continuing the movement of essential operational staff, including between states, and maintaining flight, rail and port networks to supply fuel, equipment and other critical inputs.

"The sudden shift by different governments in recent days to place restrictions on movement of people across borders prompted the MCA to accelerate work on the national approach to the safe and efficient passage of essential workers and supplies for mining operations," she said.

"This work is continuing with the MCA joining APPEA and state resources organisations in a united approach to the National Cabinet on these vital issues."