PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Western Australian government will place a hard border closure on the state from April 5, in an effort to contain the further spread of Covid-19 in the state.
“These new harder border closures essentially mean we will be turning Western Australia into its own island, within an island - our own country.
"These are drastic steps, but also sensible and workable,” Premier Mark McGowan said.
He noted that a number of specific exemptions would be implemented to ensure the state could continue to operate and function. These exemptions will include health services and emergency services workers, transport, freight and logistics and specialist skills not available in Western Australia.
There will also be an exemption for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers and their families, however, McGowan said that a strict 14-day self-isolation measure would need to be followed when the FIFO workers and their families first enter the state.
Mining major BHP on Friday said that it was well prepared for the stronger border controls being brought in by the Western Australian government, and would continue to implement measures to protect its staff and their families.
“We fully support the decision by Premier McGowan to require all FIFO workers to quarantine for 14 days for the further protection of the Western Australian community,” BHP’s Western Australia iron-ore acting asset president Tim Day said.
“We have implemented stringent hygiene and physical distancing measures across our operations and we will continue to reassess these each day and make any improvements necessary to keep our people and communities safe by reducing the risk of Covid-19 spread.
“We are all in this together and we will continue to work with the many local suppliers and contracting partners we have in Western Australia to ensure we support local jobs and local businesses.
“The mining sector is a critical part of the state and national economy and we are committed to working with government and playing our part to help keep our industry operating safely during this difficult time.”
Oil and gas major Woodside has also implemented a temporary rostering model for its assets in the Pilbara, under which operation staff would undergo a two-week isolation period to ensure that they started their working stint virus-free, followed by a four-week shift.
After their four-week shift, staff would return to their homes for a two-week rest.
“None of this is easy, but I am proud of how the Woodside workforce has responded to temporary changes in how we work, whether that involves working from home or adapting to new roster arrangements, and we’ll continue to monitor this as the situation evolves,” said Woodside MD and CEO Peter Coleman.
“We are doing what we can to protect jobs – the vast majority of then in Western Australia. We are also working with our contractors to mitigate impacts on their businesses and their employees and expediting payment terms for small, local and indigenous businesses.
“Companies like ours can play a crucial role in maintaining stability now and driving the economic recovery after the health crisis passes,” Coleman said.
The Australian Worker's Union has estimated that around 800 FIFO workers have been relocated to Western Australia thus far, for a potential three-month period, with a further 300 temporarily relocating to Queensland, according to newswire Bloomberg.