The Northern Territory Government has put all mine workers who travelled to Alice Springs and Darwin into isolation following a COVID-19 outbreak at Newmont Corporation’s Tanami gold mine.
The first case linked to Tanami was confirmed on Saturday and has prompted a 48-hour snap lockdown in the Territory from June 27.
According to the Northern Territory Government, the male fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) worker arrived at Tanami from Brisbane on June 18 and was likely to have been infected at a Brisbane quarantine hotel before arriving at the mine.
Newmont has suspended mining operations at Tanami following the positive case.
“Newmont’s excellent record management, professionalism and workforce compliance have supported the quick and decisive activation of the company’s response plan including the temporary suspension of Tanami operations,” Minerals Council of Australia chief executive officer Tania Constable said.
“All employees at the site are now isolating apart from a small number of critical workers who are responsible for maintaining key systems.”
Tanami is a FIFO operation located in the Tanami desert and is 270 kilometres from the remote Aboriginal community of Yuendumu.
The Northern Territory Government has contacted 900 workers who had left the mine since June 18 and directed them to test and isolate.
The workers had taken charter flights to Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth and Brisbane.
According to the Northern Territory Government, 244 workers out of the 900 found in contract tracing were still in the Territory, with 196 flying to Darwin who have since been contacted and put in isolation.
Four positive COVID-19 cases have been linked to the initial Tanami case as of June 27.
A 64-year-old mine worker at Tanami tested positive yesterday after flying back to Darwin on June 25.
Two positive cases are currently isolated at the Tanami mine and are being evacuated by the Centre for National Resilience.
The Territory’s snap lockdown began at 1pm yesterday for residents of Darwin, Palmerston and Darwin rural areas, with the only reasons to leave home including medical treatment, essential goods and services, essential workers, one hour of outdoor exercise within five kilometres from home, and care and support reasons.
“Strong COVID-19 protocols put in place last year across Australia’s mining industry and scenario planning have contributed to a quick and decisive response to this isolated incident,” Constable said.
“Mining sites are effective quarantine facilities, shown by the use of the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory which is a former resource industry camp and the model for future Commonwealth quarantine facilities.”