WA lockdown forces Fortescue to halt FIFO

Fortescue Metals Group has cancelled its fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) flights on Monday after the Western Australia Government announced a five-day lockdown across three regions in the state.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan imposed the lockdown for metropolitan Perth, the South West and Peel regions after a cleaner working at a quarantine hotel tested positive for the highly contagious United Kingdom strain of COVID-19.

The state government has forbidden movement of FIFO workers from the locked down regions until the emergency measure lifts at 6pm Perth time on Friday, but is allowing mining activities to go ahead with staff that are currently on site.

“FIFO workers in Perth will (not) be able to fly north to the Pilbara during the lockdown,” a spokesman for the Premier said.

“The government has asked companies to delay any shift changes and keep workers where they are for the next five days.”

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said while mining workers had been deemed an essential service, the company supported the need to minimise travel and had cancelled Monday’s flights.

“We are cooperating with the government to limit the movement of people during this important five-day lockdown,” Gaines said.

“The health and safety of the Fortescue family is our highest priority and Fortescue will continue to work closely with authorities to ensure all relevant measures and implemented to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 directly impacting our team, their families and the community.”

For mining companies with FIFO workers on site or a local workforce outside of the three locked down regions, such as Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings, it is business as usual.

“Saracen Mineral Holdings does not expect production and exploration at its West Australian operations to be impacted by the five-day lockdown measures announced by Premier Mark McGowan,” the company stated.

“All the company’s operations are located outside the lockdown boundaries set by the government.”

Northern Star also confirmed that it did not expect any disruption to the Super Pit or its other Goldfields region mining projects including Kanowna Belle, Jundee, East Kundana and South Kalgoorlie.

“Northern Star’s top priority at all times is the health and safety of its staff, business partners and the communities in which we operate and this is the basis of all its strategies for managing COVID-19,” Northern Star stated.

“The company will advise the market should these circumstances change.”