BHP has announced it will allocate $7.6 million from its recently created Vital Resources Fund to support the establishment of COVID19 testing centres in Moranbah and Proserpine, in a move that will ease the strain on local health facilities and increase the separation between suspected cases and the local community.
Welcoming the funding announcement, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) 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 (BMC) Asset President Elsabe Muller said the resources industry is stepping up to
support the economy, but will equally ensure that it is doing everything it can 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.” Ms. Muller said.
Mines Minister Dr. Anthony Lynham said the resources sector continued to step up and protect its workers and the regional communities they work 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.” Dr. Lynham said. 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 enable patients to be tested for COVID19 after presenting with clear symptoms of the virus, or following high-risk interaction. These centres will offer triage and testing services with a tele-health 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 to reduce the potential for further spread of COVID19. It’s 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 says the testing centres will continue the assistance his organisation has 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 vital 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. Further funding
may be considered from the Vital Resources Fund if required.
Federal Government Welcome Centres
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt has welcomed BHP’s announcement that it will fund two new COVID-19 testing centres in Central Queensland.
Minister Pitt said it’s another great example of the resources sector’s efforts to keep its workforce and surrounding communities safe.
“The testing centres in Moranbah and Proserpine will keep people away from local hospitals and medical centres by targeting those showing symptoms or considered at risk of contracting the virus,” Minister Pitt said.
“I congratulate and thank BHP for the $7.6 million in funding the company is providing to establish the centres that will boost local health services and increase the ability to detect COVID-19 cases as early as possible.
“This will help protect BHP workers and those living in Isaac and Whitsunday region communities around the worksites.”
“Resources companies across the country have taken extraordinary steps to protect workers’ health and keep their mines operating, which is very important for the national economy.
“Strict protocols have been enforced, with the co-operation of workers, that includes regular temperature testing, shift changes and minimising the need for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers,” Minister Pitt 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,” Minister Pitt said.
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