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FIFO must not put communities and workers at risk of COVID-19

Mining employees and the communities they work in should not be put at risk because governments and mining companies want to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

The Alliance is deeply concerned following media reports this morning that some workers and residents of mining-dependent communities do not feel safe because fly-in-fly-out operations have been allowed to continue, despite numerous state border closures.

Both Queensland and Western Australia have officially closed their borders to “non-essential” visitors, but have exempted mining, oil, and gas FIFO employees.

There are also troubling reports emerging from NSW’s Hunter region that some coal mining companies are not observing important social distancing measures and increased hygiene requirements.

Following a “round table meeting” earlier this week between resource industry representatives, lobby groups, and the Federal Government, Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Naomi Hogan said the alliance was concerned profits were being put ahead of miners’ and local community health and safety. 

“The Government is letting down miners and local communities by letting big lobby groups and multinational mining companies dictate policy,” she said.

“We are concerned that local communities are calling for stronger protection right now, but don't have a seat at the table. 

“The Government is instead having closed door meetings with the Minerals Council and APPEA.

“There is a global excess of gas available currently. Let people stay home safely with their families and avoid the virus spread. 

“There have also been strong calls from Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory for FIFO fracking operations to be halted during this health crisis to avoid transmission to vulnerable communities and Elders.

“Lock the Gate Alliance is concerned that governments' appeasement of the lobby groups for mining, oil, and gas industries is putting the health of workers and communities at risk as COVID-19 continues to spread.”

The Alliance’s call comes as Federal Resource Minister Keith Pitt prepares to meet with his state and territory counterparts today to discuss the industry’s future during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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