Rio Tinto continues Pilbara operations under strict coronavirus measures

Rio Tinto has introduced strict measures at its Pilbara operations in Western Australia to combat the coronavirus, including redesigned rosters, social distancing and airport health checks.

The mining giant has introduced these measures to protect its employees and the communities it operates in, while keeping its operations running safely.

Last week, 1200-plus Rio Tinto employees at the Yandicoogina and Greater Brockman sites started their new two weeks on, two weeks off rosters, which have been redesigned to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

To service these changes, the company has secured additional charter flights with Qantas and Virgin Australia to and from the Pilbara sites, enabling appropriate social distancing between staff members on planes.

The company is also enforcing employee screening and temperature checks prior to staff boarding flights and reduced passenger capacity on buses, with every second seat tagged out as unavailable, as well as social distancing in village dining rooms and an increased cleaning schedule.

The recent Western Australian border closure has also led to changes to Rio Tinto’s national fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers. The company has relocated more than 700 employees with specialist skills to Perth from interstate or overseas.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of our people and our communities,” Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said.

“We will continue to strengthen the measures throughout our operations and at airports to ensure we are doing everything we can to put the health and safety of people first.

“These measures mean we can keep our operations running, to ensure we continue delivering products to our customers and make a strong contribution to the Western Australian and Australian economies at a very challenging time.”

Rio Tinto is also planning to roll out revised rosters at its other sites for more than 3500 employees, replacing existing shorter schedules to further reduce travel frequency in and out of the Pilbara.

The company is not only supporting the Australian economy during the pandemic, but has also committed $US25 million ($41.4 million) globally, to support community preparedness and recovery.

This includes manufacturing hand sanitiser, donating medical equipment and supporting funding for community projects and partnerships.

Rio Tinto has also supported the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia’s COVID-19 (coronavirus) community support initative, to provide $6.6 million to be distributed between Foodbank Western Australia, Lifeline Western Australia and the Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations.

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