Mining companies can share safety supplies, says ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given the green light for resources companies to source and share essential safety supplies so they can continue operating through the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 280 businesses will be able to source and share safety supplies and spare parts for mining machinery and equipment as mining operations continue as an essential service throughout the pandemic.

Members of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and seven other mining associations will be able to work together to manage critical services and supplies after the ACCC granted interim authorisation for the arrangements.

The interim authorisation allows members that have been notified to the ACCC to coordinate on the sourcing, purchase and distribution of crucial supplies and services such as health and safety equipment, logistics, equipment maintenance and consumables like fuel and explosives.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on global manufacturing and supply chains, which has created challenges for those sectors, such as mining, that are still operating and still in need of crucial equipment and services,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“To help address these challenges, we have authorised mining companies to coordinate on a limited range of activities to help ensure they can continue to operate safely and efficiently.”

The authorisation only applies to activities relating to these critical services and supplies.

It will, for example, allow companies to share inventories and manage demand for these critical services and supplies, coordinate deliveries, and share details of potential suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks needed to work in underground mines.

“The approval does not allow mining companies to coordinate on the terms, conditions or prices in supply contracts,” Sims clarified.

“We are going to closely monitor the effect of these arrangements and when it is appropriate for this authorisation to be revoked.”

The ACCC must be notified in advance of any arrangements made under the authorisation.