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Mine sites report multiple FIFO staff tested positive

Granites Gold Mine
Granites Gold Mine

Remote employees became infected with a highly contagious disease at multiple mining operations.

Newmont Corporation and South32 reported numerous fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers recently tested positive to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The relevant cases include at least two FIFO workers from Newmont’s Granites Gold Mine in the Tanami Desert, 540km northwest of Alice Springs plus a different interstate employee from South32’s Groote Eylandt Mine – about 640km west of Darwin.

“The interstate travellers include two miners from the Granites Gold Mine in the Tanami, and one miner from the Gemco mine on Groote Eylandt,” the Northern Territory Government said in a public statement.

The NT’s latest COVID-19 update recorded 327 new infections across the jurisdiction’s entire population at the time of publication. At least 40 per cent of these cases were confirmed through rapid antigen tests. The entire territory had about 4000 active cases.

The Federal Government previously declared mine workers are exempt from so-called “close contact rules,” which had required anyone near an infected person to immediately quarantine for seven days.

The Australasian High Pressure Water Jetting Association (AUSJET) and Australasian Drain Cleaning and Vacuum Association (ADVCA) applauded the regulatory move to let workers, who are a close contact of a positive case, to skip isolation and return to work – if they have no symptoms and return a negative rapid test result.

“The decision by the national cabinet to change close contact rules and extend the ‘furlough arrangements’ … gives workers and the industry clarity about the immediate future,” AUSJET/ADCVA chair Peter Jones said in a public statement.

“Our membership applauds the national cabinet decision, and we recommend that those changes should remain in place once COVID-19 is under control.”

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AMSJ April 2022