Big miners considering mandatory vaccinations

MINERS are cautiously considering whether to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for workers.
Big miners considering mandatory vaccinations Big miners considering mandatory vaccinations Big miners considering mandatory vaccinations Big miners considering mandatory vaccinations Big miners considering mandatory vaccinations

Australia's situation has become more urgent in recent weeks, given it lags the rest of the OECD on vaccination rates and roughly half the population is in lockdown due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Qantas became the first Australian company to mandate vaccines for employees this week.

BHP CEO Mike Henry said the company was watching the situation closely.

"The first priority is the safety of our workforce," he told reporters this week.

"Our hope is people see the wisdom in getting vaccinated."

Henry didn't rule out making vaccination mandatory.

"We'll do what we have to do to ensure our people remain safe," he said.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are only "encouraging" workers to be vaccinated at this point.

Evolution executive chairman Jake Klein repeated the frustrations expressed at Diggers & Dealers this month over Australia's vaccine roll-out.

He said Australia had gone from leader to laggard in the fight against COVID-19.

"We haven't vaccinated our population quickly enough," Klein said yesterday.

Klein said Evolution was doing everything it could to encourage its workers to get vaccinated and to make it as easy as possible.

He said the company would monitor vaccination take-up rates and then make a determination over whether to make jabs mandatory.

Newcrest managing director Sandeep Biswas said he wouldn't rule out making vaccination mandatory in the future, "depending on how this Delta thing goes".

Newmont reportedly sacked its North American vice president Dan Janney earlier this month after he refused to support the gold miner's position on COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, Fortescue Metals Group chair Andrew Forrest reportedly told anti-vaxxers they weren't welcome at the iron ore miner.

Yesterday, Rio Tinto announced it was partnering with the Western Australian government to launch a COVID-19 vaccination blitz targeting communities in the Pilbara and the fly-in fly-out workforce.

In conjunction with the WA Department of Health, vaccination hubs will be established in the Pilbara and at a trial clinic at Perth Airport to make vaccinations more accessible.

A location for the proposed Tom Price hub is close to being finalised, which could potentially offer vaccines to the entire adult population of Tom Price and surrounding communities.

Rio's existing COVID-19 screening facilities at Perth Airport will also be modified to include ‘pop-up' vaccination hubs to target workers returning to Perth.

The hubs will initially be available to the company's FIFO workforce, with the option to expand the vaccination service to the wider FIFO community.

The initial vaccination blitz is expected to kick off next month, subject to availability of vaccines.

 "We are pleased to work in partnership with the WA government on this industry-first vaccination blitz, which we expect will help boost vaccination rates in the Pilbara," Rio Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott said.

"This is an important development in our state's effort to combat COVID-19. We know vaccinations are our best way out of this pandemic and we are very happy to convert our existing screening facilities, which have helped keep COVID-19 out of our operations and vulnerable communities for almost 18 months, to include vaccination hubs.

"Plans are being developed to establish additional hubs in places like Paraburdoo, Pannawonica and Dampier, following the Tom Price vaccine blitz."