Mining camps across Australia may be forced to close to prevent the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19.
AMSJ understands that several of the world’s largest miners have developed a range of contingency plans that highlight that mining camps may be closed as a last resort, in a move to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Last week a range of mining leaders met in Western Australia to discuss contingencies for an immediate outbreak at mines in the state and while the industry’s leaders believed that the industry could mitigate risk, the possibility for the closure of a mining camp is considered a real threat.
“At the moment, preparedness is high — the impact is very, very low,” Paul Everingham, Chief Executive of the Chamber of Mines & Energy WA said.
He added that both from an employee and contractor perspective, the companies had “their wellbeing and their safety at heart and as a priority. We are going to keep employing our employees and our contractors through this.”
“We don’t think there will be a discontinuity of our operations, but regardless we are keen to keep on the contractors and employees that, rightly, have been a big part of our members’ successes,” Mr Everingham said.
BMA supplier tests positive to COVID-19 after site visit
In the past week, a BMA supplier has tested positive for COVID-19 and other mineworkers from a BMA site are in isolation awaiting test results.
AMSJ has been informed that a supplier attended the site for a brief time at the Daunia mine site on Tuesday had been confirmed with COVID-19 following symptoms.
BMA said that on Friday it had “received confirmation that the supplier had tested positive for the virus.”
AMSJ understands that other mineworkers who were in close contact with the contractor are now awaiting test results.
BMA has implemented a range of precursory measures to support its’ communicable disease plans including implementing health risk assessments for all personnel and sending text messages to all staff and contractors not to attend site if they have flu-like symptoms.
A spokesman for BMA confirmed that operations at the mine are continuing as normal but extra precautions have been put in place to ensure personnel are not inadvertently exposed to the virus. BMA said it did not intend to close the camp and it would assess measure for spread of COVID-19 on a daily basis.
UPDATED 15/3/20 – The original story has been amended following confirmation from BMA. BMA confirmed this morning that the contractor did not attend the camp or the mess area at the site.
In a statement, a BMA representative confirmed “On Friday we received confirmation that a supplier, who was on site briefly at BMA Daunia Mine, has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual only had limited contact with a small group of people at Daunia and only visited site. They did not stay in a camp. In line with medical advice, BMA has not implemented any plans to close any camps. Our key message to our workforce is to first and foremost look after themselves and their families. In particular, we are emphasising for workers to not travel to work if they have any flu-like symptoms. If workers do not have any symptoms, as per medical advice, we ask them to continue to attend work as normal.”
AMSJ will update additional information as it comes to hand.
Other mining camps implement Coronavirus measures
Two weeks ago an FMG mineworker was isolated and later tested negative after returning from Bali. The mineworker worker complained of flu-like symptoms and underwent testing as per Western Australian Health Department requirements.
FMG had formerly implemented a range of measure to limit the spread of communicable diseases.
“This is welcome news and ensuring our workforce is healthy, safe and informed remains our number one priority,” FMG said in a statement.
FMG said it had been communicating with its employees, contractors and suppliers to ensure health and hygiene practices were followed and travel guidelines understood.
The company has asked workers who have travelled to Iran, mainland China, Italy and South Korea not to return to site or the office for at least 14 days after they have travelled.
“We have asked team members to advise of any other overseas travel prior to returning to the site,” FMG said.
Non-essential travel to FMG sites has been postponed and international travel to a number of overseas countries has been restricted, in line with federal government guidelines.
Rostered flights to and from sites continue as normal and FMG does not envisage any production impact
Sino Iron Ore mine run by Citic Pacific Mining in the Pilbara also had a number of workers isolated and tested.
Major international mining conference attendee confirmed with Coronavirus
One of the world’s largest mining conferences held this past week has confirmed an attendee was diagnosed with COVID-19. The PDAC (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada) Conference in Toronto from March 1-4th was attended by 23,000 mining personnel from across the globe despite the known risks of Coronavirus COVID-19.
The Canadian man presented with symptoms of COVID-19 while attending the event though Doctors believe that he may not have been infectious during his visit to the event. A male in his fifties who is believed to work for the Canadian Government attended the event on March 2 and 3.
Dr Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury & District Medical Officer of Health, said in a media release “Our working hypothesis at this time is that this individual was exposed to COVID-19 while at the conference and therefore we are advising those who attended the conference to monitor for symptoms for 14 days since leaving this event.”
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