Mining and metals industry critical to COVID-19 recovery: ICMM

International Council of Mining & Metals (ICMM) member companies have spent more than $US315 million ($464 million) combined in their global response to COVID-19 pandemic so far.

The figure was revealed as part of a new briefing report by ICMM, which includes members from 27 mining and metals companies and over 35 regional and commodity associations.

“This figure only scratches the surface of work being undertaken by members and does not include costs for donations of goods in kind, provision of company facilities or support for emergency critical infrastructure. It also does not include financial contributions from joint ventures and salary sacrifices made by senior management teams,” ICMM stated.

The ICMM report describes how the mining and metals industry can contribute to reviving the economy  while fortifying mining-dependent countries following the impact of COVID-19.

“It has never been more important that the mining and metals industry helps to build local and national resilience through its actions,” the report stated, noting that even if the pandemic is contained, it is unlikely that many commodity prices will see a quick rebound.

The report highlights tight health and safety measures undertaken by companies such as Alcoa, Anglo American, BHP, Newcrest Mining, Rio Tinto, Sibanye Stillwater and South32 as ways the sector has been able to build resilience in the face of the global crisis.

“In countries where mining operations have continued, ICMM members have worked hard to ensure that the highest standards of sanitation and hygiene have been instigated and enforced.

“This has had the effect of not only making workplaces safe, but also forms a vital part of the efforts for resilience as these measures ensure that operations can continue.”

BHP announced a reduction in fly-in fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in drive-out (DIDO) workers travelling to sites, with non-critical employees working from home; changes to rosters; non-residential workers temporarily relocating interstate; regular health screenings; and reinforcing social distancing and hygiene requirements through daily pre-start messages.

Rio Tinto has introduced screening measures at three Western Australian airports after successful screening processes were tested at Perth Airport.

Rio Tinto now requires its FIFO workers to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure times to allow for screening, which is overseen by the company’s occupational physician.

It includes online and face to face health questionnaires, temperature checks and a rapid finger prick blood screen that is performed by a nurse to detect viral antibodies.

“While it is important to maintain fiscal resilience, this must not come at the cost of people’s health or wellbeing. The safety and wellbeing of workers is of paramount importance to ICMM collectively and members individually,” ICMM stated.

ICMM encourages mining companies to accelerate their transition to a low-carbon future in their recovery from COVID-19 to grow sustainably.

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