PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt said that the federal, state and territory governments were working to ensure that critical resources projects kept operating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Australian resources sector is a key part of the Australian economy. The commodities Australia mines keep the lights on here. They supply the essentials for major businesses like smelters and refineries, and our exports will be critical in keeping international economies going as they too deal with the Covid-19 pandemic,” Pitt said.
“The resources sector has developed a set of health and safety protocols to protect workers and local communities. They include strict standards on transport and procedures on mine sites.
“State and territory Ministers have committed to keep working together as each jurisdiction updates its border rules,” Pitt said.
He noted that where possible, jurisdictions would work together to maximise the ability of workers to move between states and territories, noting that each state is regularly reviewing its requirements in accordance with the advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and respective state and territory Chief Medical Officers.
“Ministers agreed that officials would undertake further work to ensure specialist personnel from overseas and within Australia continue to be available to respond in the event of an emergency,” he added.
Queensland this week announced that only critical interstate fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mineworkers will be allowed into Queensland as the state worked to limit the spread of Covid-19, while Western Australia at the start of this week halted all FIFO staff from New South Wales entering the state.
“The resources sector remains well positioned to lead Australia’s economic recovery,” Pitt said, pointing to figures from Western Australia, which showed a 28% increase in the state’s resources sales last year, and importantly, the number of people employed in the industry being up 133 094.
Pitt earlier this week welcomed the long-term commitment of some of Australia’s largest mining and petroleum companies to major resources projects, despite the economic disruption caused by Covid-19.
Miner BHP announced that it would employ an additional 1 500 workers and contractors to its existing sites, to support staff during the pandemic, while also investing millions in a fund to support regional Australian communities in areas in which it operates.
Pitt also welcomed oil and gas majors Woodside and Santos’ continued support of their respective assets in Australia, despite both companies pushing back the final investment decision (FID) timeline for its major projects.
Woodside has deferred the FID on its Scarborough, Pluto Train 2 and Browse liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, while Santos has announced a deferral on the FID for its Barossa offshore gas project to backfill Darwin LNG.