Some of Australia’s miners are set to return to their normal fly-in fly-out rosters, as coronavirus infections remain low particularly in those transitioning between Western Australia and Queensland.
In March some rosters for FIFO workers were doubled, some even tripled to reduce the travelling risk involved with flying during the COVID-19 pandemic. This left some miners away from their interstate families for months.
BHP and Fortescue Metals Group have announced the return of FIFO rosters, and Rio Tinto have already started moving back to its pre-COVID-19 rosters.
Things should almost be back to a ‘new-normal’ by the start of July.
The new-normal in mining
What does the new-normal look like in the mining industry?
Fortescue FIFO workers will have to undergo nasal swab tests for the virus. These test results will feed into the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia’s DETECT FIFO program and the WA government’s broader DETECT program.
Rio Tinto has established a marquee at Perth airport for blood testing of FIFO workers to reduce the risk of transmission. While these tests don’t diagnose COVID-19 directly they reveal the existence of antibodies which can be a sign of the virus.
Testing will be mandatory.
Interstate miners may need to wait longer
However, while the big mines are starting to return to their normal FIFO rosters, WA premier Mark McGowan’s hard stance on the state’s hard border means those workers who have relocated from interstate will likely have to stay a little longer.
FIFO workers in WA do not qualify for exemptions from the two week quarantine period.
Media reports have recently put pressure on the WA premier to open the boarders, or at least set a date.
But all things aside, this is encouraging signs that our Australian Mining Industry is back on track.