Across the Hunter, mining companies have put in place a ton of initiatives during the pandemic, such as mine site vaccination hubs, rapid antigen testing and incentive programs. They have truly gone above and beyond to support their employees and the communities they operate in. Here’s a snapshot of some of the fantastic things they have been doing.
Mt Arthur Coal
Mt Arthur Coal moved quickly to implement site based Covid-19 testing of their workforce and have already conducted over 15,000 Rapid Antigen Tests at their onsite testing clinic. They commenced “walk in” testing on August 6 before introducing “drive through” testing in early September, further minimising contact exposure for their workforce. The Rapid Antigen Test is much less invasive than the regular PCR testing and can return a negative Covid-19 result in under 15 minutes.
In early September they launched the first onsite Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic in the Australian resources sector. In addition to providing access to vaccination for employees, they are also offering a further incentive with employees who are fully vaccinated by December 1 receiving 200 ‘BHP Big Thanks’ points and contractors receiving an equivalent $200 voucher to spend within their local community. BHP Big Thanks allows recipients to choose how they use their voucher from a wide range of brands and products.
Due to Mt Arthur Coal’s ability to rapidly implement high level controls including wastewater sampling, contact tracing, Rapid Antigen Testing and PCR Testing onsite, the team have confidence that the site is safe to remain operational, even if workplace exposure to Covid-19 was to occur.
“I’m really proud of the team for the way they have stood up the Covid controls in just a matter of weeks,” said Mt Arthur Coal General Manager, Adam Lancey. “I can’t thank the team enough for their work to stand up and comply with these testing controls to keep our people and their families safe,” he said.
The Bloomfield Group
The Bloomfield Group are encouraging Covid-19 vaccination among their employees by providing $250 Shop in Singleton gift cards to all employees who undergo vaccination.
This great initiative will not only boost the pocket of their employees, but it will also provide a boost to the local economy and help small businesses who are suffering with the ongoing lockdown restrictions.
“We are aware that many businesses and individuals in our local communities have, through no fault of their own, suffered Covid-19 related financial loss and uncertainty during the last eighteen months,” said a Bloomfield spokesperson.
“We have launched a Spend With Local Small Businesses Initiative in which all fully vaccinated employees receive a $250 gift card. The gift card can be used to buy goods and services from a local business, paid forward to a neighbour, friend or stranger in need of a random act of kindness, or donated to a charity of their choice.
“For qualifying Bloomfield Group employees with links to the Singleton area, a “Spend in Singleton” gift card will be provided. Other employees will receive a $250 gift card to spend in Maitland. Participation in our Spend With Local Small Businesses Initiative is voluntary.”
When it comes to digging deep in the fight against Covid-19, Glencore stepped up right from the beginning providing a $725,000 funding injection towards the University of Queensland’s vaccine development program and $45,000 for Covid-19 testing equipment at Mount Isa Hospital. The funding came from the company’s Community Support Fund, set up specifically to assist communities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As with all mines, Glencore’s key priority is to protect the health and safety of all their people and the communities they operate in. Recent efforts include supporting and encouraging all their people to get vaccinated. To that end, they are offering $200 IGA gift vouchers for all workers who are fully vaccinated. Recognising that local communities are struggling and need all the help they can get each Glencore site is set up to redirect the vouchers if requested and a number of Glencore employees have opted to donate their vouchers to charities who are helping families doing it tough during Covid.
Malabar have directed their efforts to supporting local community in the Upper Hunter over the past two months, donating school, sporting and food supplies to those most in need. The local resources company said it had been in conversation with community groups since the lockdown began to find ways it can help.
In August, Malabar donated school supplies to the Singleton Neighbourhood Centre, a not-for-profit organisation providing emergency relief and financial assistance to those in the local area. More recently, the company donated $500 in addition to basic food supplies to the Scone Community Pantry, which prepares hot meals for struggling families. The donation came at a vital moment for the organisation, which had to cancel its major fundraisers due to lockdown restrictions. Malabar also donated sporting equipment to all students at Jerrys Plains Public School. Malabar’s donation will support the school’s 33 students as part of an initiative to improve physical and mental wellbeing during the pandemic.
Malabar’s Manager of Health, Safety, Environment and Community, Donna McLaughlin, said Malabar was delighted to support the community in these different ways.
“During lockdown, we’ve committed ourselves to checking in with all our community partners to see how we can help. We have also been fortunate to strike new relationships with community organisations that do such great work in our local community. What I love most about this community, is that in times like these – in spite of lockdown restrictions – the community comes together to help each other and we are proud to be a part of that.”
Bengalla Mining Company
The Bengalla ‘RAT Pack’ has been hard at work implementing Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) at a purpose-built facility near their site entrance. Commencing mid September, they are currently completing around 300 tests per day and are confident that this initiative will help to reduce the health and safety risks for their onsite workers, whilst maintaining continuity of operations and support for their suppliers in the event of local infections. They have also been conducting frequent sewerage detection testing.
A Bengalla spokesperson said they wanted to thank all their suppliers, staff and customers of the facility for ensuring that operations got off to a strong start and a special thanks to Mt. Arthur Coal and Mt Pleasant who provided invaluable RAT facility advice to them.
Bengalla have also been helping the local community through supporting the Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s initiative of Care Packs, which will be distributed to local business owners and their families who are experiencing financial difficulty due to lockdowns.