Government and resources sector leaders from across Australia will join their first phone hook-up tomorrow under a new mechanism to keep the industry running smoothly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal and state resources ministers have agreed to work together under a Resources National Coordination Mechanism to meet the fast-moving challenges of the outbreak.
It came out of a teleconference last night, with ministers agreeing that “the resources sector is essential in maintaining a strong Australian economy”.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive officer Tania Constable said the sudden shift by different governments in recent days to place restrictions on movement of people across borders prompted the MCA to accelerate work on a national approach to the safe and efficient passage of essential workers and supplies for mining operations.
“This work is continuing with the MCA joining APPEA and state resources organisations in a united approach to the National Cabinet on these vital issues,” she said.
Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt, who convened last night’s meeting, said it was an important step to ensure coordination for such an important industry.
“We are fortunate that our resources sector is in such a strong position heading into this crisis and with a united approach we can ensure it remains that way,” he said.
“Ministers discussed the need for a coordinated national approach to managing the impacts of COVID-19 in the resources sector. Governments and industry are working together to respond effectively to these unprecedented challenges.
“Ministers recognise the resources sector is essential to Australia’s economy.
“The maintenance of resources sector operations, in parallel to the implementation of new health measures, is a key priority.
“The resources industry will play a lead role in our economic recovery when the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and the jobs it creates will be a lifeline to many regional communities.”
The national cabinet determined work in mines as an “essential activity” and has exempted mine sites from its ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.
The Queensland Resources Council is continuing to clarify how the restrictions on entry into Queensland from midnight tonight will be applied.
It has urged the State Government to include mining and petroleum industry as “essential” and thereby provide “exemptions” for staff to continue to deliver the essential service.
Queensland industry protocols for COVID-19 are being developed in conjunction with the national guidelines developed by MCA and APPEA