PREPARED: BMA asset president James Palmer says strict hygienic measures are in place amid COVID-19.
PREPARED: BMA asset president James Palmer says strict hygienic measures are in place amid COVID-19.

Mining boss responds to COVID-19 safety concerns

CONCERN over potential mining closures and a perceived lack of safety practices amid the COVID-19 pandemic have been quashed by a resource industry leader.

BMA asset president James Palmer said while he was aware of the wider community's worries, strict measures within the Bowen Basin mining region had been implemented.

His comments come after Queensland Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk last week announced tougher restrictions on FIFO travel, effectively closing Queensland borders to all non-essential workers.

"Our industry and the community, like anyone, are certainly concerned about coronavirus. As far as BMA is concerned, we're absolutely committed to playing our part and helping reduce the spread of coronavirus and protecting our employees and our Queensland communities," Mr Palmer said.

The mining giant had adopted a variety of new practices which had proved challenging, Mr Palmer said, adding strict social distancing rules were also being adhered to from end-to end.

"We've implemented screening, like temperature testings, at both the Brisbane and Moranbah airports at our sites. We have also reduced the number of people travelling to the sites itself," he said.

In addition, chartered flights have also been arranged to allow for a row's two occupants to be placed with a seat between them in accordance with social distancing.

"Many of the measures are the same as what many of us need to take in our daily lives; increased hygiene practices, strict physical distancing is critical too. That's where we're putting a lot of our efforts," Mr Palmer said.

He said while the COVID-19 situation was a fast-moving one, BMA had taken pre-emptive measures for non-essential staff to work from home to limit the number of bodies on both site and transport.

"We acted before the government announced the new restrictions. Everything has an impact, but we always want to move before regulation moves because it's the right thing to do," he said.

Communities surrounding the mining site are pleased it continues to operate, Mr Palmer said, after the company last month announced the additional hire of 1500 new team members.

"There's been a lot of really positive feedback from the fact that we continue to support local jobs and business," he said.

"It really does help the region. It's a tough situation for everyone but there's a lot of people pleased that we're continuing to operate."

"We want to ensure the local community benefits and they're protected. And that we continue to support local jobs and businesses which help the region stay on its feet."

In light of the new FIFO travel restrictions, Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane said many mining sites had responded promptly and accordingly.

"I've spoken with our members today and they are reporting significant drops in the number of interstate FIFO workers as of Saturday night with only critical workers approved,'' he said.

Since the restrictions, Mr Macfarlane said Arrow Energy had reduced its FIFO workers into Moranbah by around 30 per cent.