the Australian Mining Sector Has Been Impacted by
like the rest of the world, Australia has not been
spared from the Covid-19 pandemic. After the first
case was identified on 25th January in Victoria, the
virus spread rapidly to other areas which prompted
all industries providing non-essential services to
shut down. Although many mining sites and operations
are located in remote locations, they were not spared
either, and had to rethink the way they operate. Additionally,
they had to adapt to the safety precautions put in
place to prevent the spread of the virus. Finally,
they had to find ways to recover after things started
getting back to normal.
Key to Economic Recovery
the declaration of a public health emergency in many
parts of Australia, many businesses had to close.
However, state, territory and national resources ministers
across Australia deemed mining, construction and retail
businesses as key to economic recovery. Because of
this, mining was placed on the list of essential sectors
which saw it roar back to life and continue functioning.
The mining industry employs so many people in Queensland
and so the government pledged to put measures in place
to ensure people kept their livelihoods and that they
were protected from the virus to stop its spread.
to the pandemic in March, Australian mining companies
Rio Tinto and BHP put in place programmes that would
support Australia's mining industry.
hired 1500 employees to work in coal, iron ore and
copper production. These new employees were given
six-month contracts and their jobs covered several
areas where BHP needed skilled labour.
of the roles handed out include ancillary equipment
drivers, diesel mechanics, trade assistants, electricians,
excavator operators and many others. The people given
these roles would work in various mines located in
Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales.
the same time, Rio Tinto was recruiting
graduates, skilled apprentices and aboriginal
trainees. These new workers would fill positions in
the Pilbara region in West Australia. Rio Tinto has
already said it will invest over A$10 billion in the
region in the next three years.
to Rio Tinto, they have hired a much more diverse
workforce in 2020 and the number of graduates they
have employed has grown by over 25%.
Pinto Put Up Safety Measures
Pinto, a massive Anglo-Australian company, has
already slowed down operations in Africa and Canada.
However, their operations in Australia have continued
Tinto has put measures in place to protect those who
continue to work for them in the Pilbara region. Some
of these include health checks at the airport to ensure
any workers coming from the big cities are properly
screened and healthy enough, plus an alternating two-week
work schedule for all its 1200 employees in the region.
Tinto has also put measures in place to keep productivity
high while ensuring the safety of its employees. These
include questionnaires to help with screenings and
hotlines to help employees get medical assessments
Miners Allowed to Source Equipment
27th April 2020, the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission gave interim authorisation for the Australian
Aluminium Council, Minerals Council of Australia and
State resource bodies to source safety equipment under
a joint effort.
paved the way for 280 companies to work together on
the issues of getting the right working and safety
equipment so that miners could continue to work safely
without risking their lives due to working in the
middle of a pandemic.
gave a reprieve to companies that supply mining equipment
such as Sandvik surface Drill Rigs or Sandvik Surface
drill rig parts. Companies like Complete Field Maintenance
that sell these Sandvik
parts and rigs could now work with mining companies.
Complete Field Maintenance supports the Australian
mining industry by supplying quality mining parts
and rigs for all different mining arrangements and
commissions would later clarify that working with
other players in the mining sector was important,
and if they did not take the steps to support these
suppliers of parts and services, they would not be
able to support the families, jobs, communities and
small businesses that rely on the mining industry.
for post-Covid-19 Recovery
May 2020, the Mineral Council of Australia asked the
federal government to put in place measures that would
help with the recovery of the sector once the pandemic
After this request went through, the Mineral Council
of Australia put forth a document called 'Immediate
Reform Priorities to Accelerate Economic Recovery'.
This document has measures to help the sector recover
including lower tax rates, flexible
workplaces, mining reforms and faster project
example of the proposed measures included the lowering
of the company tax rate of 30% which is deemed too
high by many of the players in the industry. Additionally,
they say this tax rate hampers their ability to remain