BHP will allocate $7.6 million from its recently created Vital Resources Fund to support the establishment of COVID-19 testing centres in Queensland as part of a partnership with local health care providers.
The centres will be delivered in Moranbah and Proserpine by private health provider Vanguard Health and will enable patients to be tested for COVID19 after presenting clear symptoms of the virus.
They will offer additional protection to the local community during the pandemic by keeping people who may be contagious away from other areas of hospitals and health centres, helping to reduce the potential for further spread of COVID19.
BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) asset president James Palmer said the organisation was determined to play its part in the significant collective response required from businesses, governments and communities across Australia.
“While it is critical for the economy that we continue to safely operate our mines, we understand local concern about the risk of people moving into the region,” he said.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed the investment by BHP, noting that it was an example of the sector’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its workers and local communities.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the resources sector was committed to a ‘people first’ response to the novel coronavirus.
“Our sector always has and always will put safety as its number one priority including working with health authorities to assist with greater resources during this outbreak,” Macfarlane said.
Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the resources sector continued to step up and protect its workers and the regional communities they work in.
“The sector has taken up the challenges of changed worked practices, of social distancing, of extra hygiene and reducing its travelling workforces, while continuing to provide pay packets for Queensland families,” he said.
Announced by BHP in March, the $50 million Vital Resources Fund is aimed at supporting regional Australian communities where BHP has active operations.
The centres will operate seven days a week and will be available for anyone in the community to get assessed and tested for COVID-19.
The initial investment will enable the centres to operate for six months. BHP has promised to consider further funding from the Vital Resources Fund if required.