WA miners rolling with FIFO punches

MAJOR changes to the way intestate fly-in, fly-out model operates have miners dealing with a logistical headache they likely never expected.
WA miners rolling with FIFO punches WA miners rolling with FIFO punches WA miners rolling with FIFO punches WA miners rolling with FIFO punches WA miners rolling with FIFO punches

WA miners are dealing with major changes to the FIFO model they have relied on for decades.

Western Australia's iron ore miners have had to make major changes to their operations, in particular the fly-in, fly-out that has been a hallmark of the industry for decades.

While the WA government closed the border on April 5, interstate FIFO workers were still allowed to come in, they just had to self-isolate for 14 days.

Three of the state's major iron ore players, Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group have had to get key personnel who live interstate to relocate, at least temporarily to WA.

In some cases those workers are bringing their families with them to.

If they came in before the hard border closure there was no need to self-isolate. If they came in after it, they have to self-isolate for 14 days.

According to the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, mining companies have to pay for suitable secure accommodation for their workers and their families if they have to go into quarantine. They also have to make sure those workers and their families have adequate supplies and get appropriate welfare checks.

With the travel restrictions applied to the state getting freight in may also prove problematic.

Freight and logistics are supposed to cross the hardened borders unimpeded, however, there is a risk of delays just due to the increased bureaucracy involved.

Could the FIFO challenges and potential freight issues also pose problems for the major projects each of those miners are undertaking?

Fortescue Metals Group CEO Elizabeth Gaines said 95% of the company's workforce resided within WA anyway and ahead of the "hard border" closure measures it had worked with those living outside the state to temporarily relocate to Perth or Port Hedland for the duration of the travel restriction.

FMG is compensating those workers for the costs incurred, including accommodation.

BHP is understood to managing its interstate FIFO workers' accommodation and the arrangements vary.

Rio Tinto is supporting the interstate workers who have relocated and is understood to have given them an accommodation allowance.

Australia's Mining Monthly understands Rio Tinto also got the bulk of its critical interstate workers relocated to WA prior to the hard border closure.

So far it appears freight is flowing suitably.

Gaines said FMG was working with its suppliers to ensure the delivery of parts and equipment continued.

"Our operations are continuing as planned," she said.

It is understood to be the same for Rio Tinto and BHP.

On the expansion projects front, FMG's Eliwana, BHP's South Flank and Rio Tinto's Koodaideri all seem to be progressing as they should.

"The Eliwana mine and rail project is currently progressing on time and budget and we are working closely with our suppliers to mitigate any impact on our project schedules," Gaines said.

Rio Tinto is expected to update progress on Koodaideri in its quarterly report next week and BHP's South Flank timelines are understood to remain unchanged.