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BHP has struck a partnership with health care providers in Queensland to support the capacity of on the ground health services by developing and servicing COVID-19 testing centres in central Queensland.
The company will allocate $7.6 million from its recently created Vital Resources Fund to support the establishment of COVID-19 testing centres in Queensland to ease the strain on regional health services and hospitals.
The centres will be delivered in Moranbah and Proserpine by private health provider Vanguard Health and will enable patients to be tested for COVID-19 after presenting clear symptoms of the virus.
They will offer additional protection to the local community during the pandemic by keeping people who may be contagious away from other areas of hospitals and health centres, helping to reduce the potential for further spread of COVID-19.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed the investment by BHP, noting that it was an example of the sector’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its workers and local communities.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the resources sector was committed to a ‘people first’ response to the novel coronavirus.
“Our sector always has and always will put safety as its number one priority including working with health authorities to assist with greater resources during this outbreak,” Macfarlane said.
Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the resources sector continued to step up and protect its workers and the regional communities they worked in.
“The sector has taken up the challenges of changed worked practices, of social distancing, of extra hygiene and reducing its travelling workforces, while continuing to provide pay packets for Queensland families,” he said.
BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), owned 50:50 by BHP and Mitsubishi Development, operates seven coal mines in Bowen Basin and owns and operates the Hay Point Coal Terminal near Mackay.
BMA asset president James Palmer said the organisation was determined to play its part in the significant collective response required from businesses, governments and communities across Australia.
“While it is critical for the economy that we continue to safely operate our mines, we understand local concern about the risk of people moving into the region,” he said.
BHP Mitsui Coal (BMC) asset president Elsabe Muller said the resources industry was stepping up to support the economy, but would equally ensure that it was doing everything it could to protect the community.
“The health and safety of our employees, contractors and the communities in which we operate is our highest priority,” she said.
“Funding these testing centres shows that we will play our part to allay any fears, and support Central Queensland during this challenging time.”
Announced by BHP in March, the $50 million Vital Resources Fund is aimed at supporting regional Australian communities where BHP has active operations.
The centres will operate seven days a week and will be available for anyone in the community to get assessed and tested for COVID-19.
The initial investment will enable the centres to operate for six months. BHP has promised to consider further funding from the Vital Resources Fund if required.