Miners returning to FIFO normal

OVER the next few weeks two of Western Australia’s major iron ore mines will start transitioning back to their regular fly-in, fly-out rosters.
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Major miners are returning to their normal FIFO rosters.

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BHP and Fortescue Metals Group are in the process of moving back to the FIFO rosters they had in place before the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.

Rio Tinto has already started moving back to its pre-COVID-19 FIFO rosters.

BHP expects to start transitioning its FIFO and residential workforce back to regular rosters from late June.

Its Perth office reopened last week with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place and flexible return-to-work approach.

FMG plans to return to normal operational rosters of two weeks on, one week off, from June 22.

The changeover is expected to take until the end of June to implement.

Non-critical site-based employees will start returning to site once the roster transition is complete.

FMG has also introduced an additional screening measure for its FIFO workers, Polymerase Chain Reaction testing, from May 27.

FMG CEO Elizabeth Gaines said the PCR testing supported its return to normal rosters while also contributing to the broader understanding of the virus.

Each team member will undergo a PCR test at least once

The PCR test results will feed into the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia's DETECT FIFO program and the WA government's broader DETECT program.

The government's DETECT program is a WA-based population study focused on testing groups of people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms.

While the testing is mandatory, FMG employees will be allowed to "opt in" to the research part of the DETECT program.

BHP WA Iron Ore acting asset president Tim Day said the company was working with the government and CMEWA to inform all decisions related to its roster transition.

"We are taking a considered approach to returning our workforce to regular rosters and flexible work arrangements and anticipate the transition to take some months," he said.

"For the past couple of months, many of our employees have had to change the way they work.

"This includes FIFO employees staying on site for extended rosters and not entering local communities, all while being away from their family and friends.

"Many of our people have relocated to WA and others have been required to work from home.

"They have shown great resilience during this difficult time and we want to ensure the return to a more regular way of working is as seamless as possible.

"Throughout July we anticipate starting to mobilise FIFO roster employees currently working from home back to site and would anticipate most of our Perth-based workforce returning to the office."

While the big miners are starting to return to their normal FIFO rosters, WA premier Mark McGowan's hard stance on the state's hard border means those workers who have relocated from interstate will likely have to stay a little longer.