QLD FIFO work on hold under new restrictions

Non-essential fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) travel in Queensland’s resources sector will be limited until January 22 despite a 72-hour lockdown being lifted in Greater Brisbane.

This means 60 per cent fewer workers will be travelling between the state’s capital and the regions, falling from the usual 3500 people to less than 1500.

The sector opted to put mining, oil and gas employees travelling from Greater Brisbane for work on hold, excluding travel that was essential from a safety or operational perspective.

This is to contain the spread of COVID-19 following a confirmed case of the highly contagious United Kingdom strain in Greater Brisbane.

Other Queensland region-based resources employees have continued to work through the pandemic under strict safety protocols.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane commended the sector’s high level of focus on safety as it faced the latest COVID-19 related challenge.

“I’m really proud of the way mining, oil and gas companies have responded to this latest COVID challenge because the state economy and hundreds of thousands of people are depending on us to do the right thing,” Macfarlane said.

“I am urging people who work in resources to maintain a high level of COVID awareness by social distancing where possible, maintaining strict hand hygiene and ceasing all non-essential social contact or group gatherings.”

Meanwhile, in New South Wales, resources sector employees travelling to South Australia for work will be exempt from border restrictions as they are still deemed as essential workers.

South Australia has advised New South Wales-based mining companies to reinstate their own control measures for essential travellers and avoid worker movements from the latter state where possible.

A 100-kilometre cross border community zone has also been established, facilitating travel between South Australia and key mining town Broken Hill – home to Broken Hill Prospecting’s Thackaringa cobalt project and Perilya’s Broken Hill zinc-lead-silver mine.

South Australia’s Department for Energy and Mining has described the border restrictions as “similar to the restrictions that existed for Victoria earlier (last) year”.

It has requested mining companies that did not go through the exemption process for Victorian staff, but were now affected by the restrictions with New South Wales, to complete the COVID-19 risk mitigation form.

Employees travelling between New South Wales and South Australia must also complete an online cross border travel form.

Despite the newly reinstated New South Wales border restrictions, mining companies are continuing business as usual as part of essential industries.

This includes fly-in fly-out (FIFO) operations for companies including mining giant BHP.

“We continue to work with relevant authorities to ensure our ongoing operations,” a BHP spokesperson said.

“The health and safety of our people and the communities in which we operate (is) our first priority.”