Small sacrifices needed to protect coal industry through pandemic

Published: 23 Apr 2020

The Miners’ Union is calling on all Queensland coal mine operators to take a long-term view of the industry’s continued operation during the COVID-19 pandemic and implement the strictest protocols even if there are short-term impacts on production.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth today said that keeping mine sites virus-free was essential to maintaining confidence in the industry.
“This is a new situation for everyone and most mine operators have stepped up – but there is still a lot of inconsistency between sites and there are still operators opting for minimum standards rather than doing everything they can to protect worker safety,” said Mr Smyth. 
“This is not the time for operators to put short-term production targets ahead of the long-term interests of the industry by continuing with practices that put workers at risk or undermine their confidence.
“We are seeing some great examples of mines stepping up. Blair Athol is a smaller mine that has been willing to take a hit on production by not compromising on social distancing and hygiene.
“Meanwhile, some of our bigger players like BHP that can afford to do the right thing are persisting with practices that just scrape by minimum guidelines – like continuing with training at close quarters and packing people into vehicles so they can keep hitting production targets.
“Some sacrifices on work practices now will deliver long-term benefits to the whole industry. It’s so far so good for the mining industry in terms of outbreaks – let’s keep it that way.”