KALGOORLIE (miningweekly.com) – Iron-ore major Fortescue Metals has urged for greater vaccination uptake after a maintenance contractor at its Cloudbreak site, in the Pilbara, tested positive for Covid-19.
The Western Australian Department of Health on Wednesday informed theminer that the contractor returned a weak positive test result for Covid-19. This person was asymptomatic while on site and is currently in isolation awaiting the outcome of further testing.
“The health and safety of our team members remains our highest priority and we are working closely with the Department of Health to assist with contact tracing,” the company said on Wednesday, adding that all team members who were on site during that period are not required to isolate unless they are identified as a close contact through contact tracing.
“Like many, we are concerned about the highly contagious Delta variant and believe that vaccination is the key to protecting our workforce and to achieving workforce mobility across Australia,” CEO Elizabeth Gaines told delegates at the Diggers & Dealers conference on Wednesday.
Gaines said that Fortescue was now undertaking contact tracing to ensure the safety of workers, and had been advised by the Department of Health that a closure of the Cloudbreak site was not necessary at this point.
“Contract tracing is coming innto effect, we have well established protocols to deal with this, we have been dealing with it for a long time. A slight benefit for the mining industtry is that we can contact trace, we know exactly who has been sleeping in our vilages and who have been on our flights, so in fact, we have a lot of data that we can work through and do our contract tracing.”
She said that Fortescue shared the view of the Business Council of Australia that business, and specifically the mining sector, could play a role in the vaccine rollout and the company was encouraging all our team members to receive a vaccine in line with current directions from the federal government.
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) this week met with the Covid-19 Taskforce Commander Lieutenant-General John Frewen to outline how the mining industry could help the federal government with the vaccine rollout to support its 256 000 workers, local communities and First Nations Australians living in remote parts of the country.
“The MCA is already working with its member companies on how the vaccine can be delivered on operational mine sites, through regional hubs and in other locations where practical and once sufficient supplies of vaccine are available,” said MCA CEO Tania Constable.
“While there are significant logistical challenges ahead, the industry will play its part in a co-ordinated and united national effort to increase vaccination rates so mining can continue to operate while workers, families and communities are kept safe from the virus.”