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Worker reports outbreak at northwest Qld mines

Mount Isa Mines aerial
Mount Isa Mines

A highly contagious disease is quickly spreading at multiple mining operations in northwest Queensland’s Gulf Country region.

An insider revealed several colleagues recently tested positive to coronavirus (COVID-19) and are isolating at Glencore’s George Fisher Mine, 20km north of Mount Isa, and Mount Isa Mines’ copper operation in The Isa.

“We have COVID running through the mine like water [and,] just last block in one crew, we had eight people test positive in one department,” the anonymous individual told AMSJ.

The employee claims the jump in infections put large numbers of workers into isolation.

“If we have symptoms we have to show to work and then they send us in for a [polymerase chain reaction] test,” the worker said.

The individual also complained about management’s lacklustre response to the outbreak.

“[It] is going mad in the mine and all we are doing is masks, it is f–ked,” the source said.

When asked about the total number of infections, Glencore did not confirm exactly how many Mount Isa workers have tested positive since the beginning of 2022.

“Similar to most large businesses, a number of workers at our copper and zinc assets have tested positive to COVID-19 over the past few weeks,” a spokesperson told AMSJ.

The proponent claimed it had followed all COVID-19 health protocols to “protect the health and safety” of its workforce.

“We have a robust testing and reporting system in place to ensure any worker testing positive immediately isolates and follows health authority protocols,” the spokesperson said.

“We are proud of our workforce’s strict adherence to these measures and protocols, which has facilitated continued operations across our North Queensland mines, metals processing facilities and offices.”

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AMSJ April 2022