The mining industry should continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, but mining companies must ramp up measures to protect worker and community safety, the Miners’ Union said on Wednesday.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said mining was essential for jobs and the economy during the current crisis, but companies need to lift their health and safety game.
“It is possible for mining companies to substantially manage the risks associated with exposing workers to COVID-19,” said Mr Smyth.
“Hygiene and social distancing must be strictly enforced at mine sites as well as camps and transport including planes and buses.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing too many cases at the moment where mine operators are just not taking this seriously enough – with workers crammed into vehicles and inadequate sanitation. Mining companies must make sure their policies are being strictly adhered to at every site.”
The industry must also heed the concerns of regional mining communities concerned about the risks posed by fly-in workforces, said Mr Smyth.
“To reduce the risks to workers and communities associated with the widespread use of fly-in workers, we encourage mining companies to look at housing workers locally where possible and appropriate.
“The mining industry must play its part in reducing exposure of workers and community members to COVID-19 and we urge companies to work with local mining communities to find solutions.
“Mining companies need their social license to operate more than ever and they must do the right thing by the communities that host their operations.”