SHUTDOWN FEARS: Isaac Mayor Anne Baker calls for urgent action. Picture: Lee Constable / Daily Mercury
SHUTDOWN FEARS: Isaac Mayor Anne Baker calls for urgent action. Picture: Lee Constable / Daily Mercury

‘Action needed now’ to stop mine shutdown, mayor warns

A MINING community leader has warned urgent action is needed to prevent a shut down of the mining industry amid the coronavirus crisis.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker is continuing to call on industry and the State Government to stop the mass influx of mine workers into regional areas, where she warned the threat of outbreak could shut down industry.

"There must be clear, concise instructions heeding the health advice to drastically slash the mass workforce movements in and out of our virus free region," Cr Baker said.

"I'm appalled at the length of time this is taking, the time for talk is over. We must keep the mines open and people in jobs, but not at the expense of lives."

But Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said shutting down the resources sector would have a devasting impact on regional economies at a time when other industries were coming to a standstill.

"The industry will continue to implement new measures, including any further recommendations by Queensland Health, to ensure the safety of the communities in which our sector operates and our staff," he said.

"Our sector is committed to a 'people first' response and is strictly following the advice from Queensland Health and the Queensland Chief Health Officer."

Mr Macfarlane said the sector has also worked with industry across Australia to develop national protocols to protects local communities.

Cr Baker said the State Government needed to ensure mine operators slashed "mass workforce movements".

She also stressed the need for stringent health screening protocols and options for workers to remain housed locally to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.

"Before it is too late, lessons must be learnt from their counterparts in Western Australia and Northern Territory where mining companies have implemented workforce models that drastically slash the volume of mass movements in and out of region," Cr Baker said.

Issac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker.
Issac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said he was sympathetic to the concerns of regional resource communities and had spoken with their mayors and chief executives last week.

"The Chief Health Officer has made her expectations clear and employers are already supplying their COVID management plans to my Department," Dr Lynham said.

"Resources companies have stepped up their response to COVID-19 to protect their workforces and the communities where they operate.

"The government continues to act as the pandemic develops. However, all stakeholders need to ensure we don't make decisions that have unintended consequences and I urge all community leaders to act responsibly at this difficult time."

Dr Lynham said the QRC had written to the mayors of regional mining communities on Monday outlining the measures companies already had put in place.


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