The Australian Mining Review - - FRONT PAGE - RAY CHAN

Re­sources Min­is­ter Keith Pitt has wel­comed the long term com­mit­ment by some of Aus­tralia’s largest min­ing and up­stream petroleum com­pa­nies to ma­jor re­sources projects, de­spite the ma­jor eco­nomic dis­rup­tion caused by the COVID-19 pan­demic.

“I un­der­stand the ex­tremely dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion fac­ing com­pa­nies and work­ers across the econ­omy in­clud­ing in the re­sources and en­ergy sec­tor,” he said.

“Any project de­lays are deeply re­gret­table and any peo­ple los­ing their jobs in the short term is some­thing the Gov­ern­ment is work­ing hard to avoid and min­imise – be that di­rect em­ploy­ees or the nu­mer­ous con­trac­tors and sub-con­trac­tors that work in this sec­tor.

“We sim­ply can’t af­ford to lose the skills and knowl­edge that these work­ers bring to the coun­try. “The next few months are go­ing to chal­lenge the in­dus­try – just as we can’t lose our skill base, nor can we af­ford to lose the com­pa­nies in the sec­tor that will be crit­i­cal to lead­ing Aus­tralia’s eco­nomic re­cov­ery.” The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment strongly wel­comed the an­nounce­ment by BHP that it was look­ing to em­ploy an ad­di­tional 1500 work­ers and con­trac­tors at many of its ex­ist­ing sites.

“This re­flects the very healthy state of BHP and in par­tic­u­lar how iron ore prices have de­fied ex­pec­ta­tions and re­mained strong dur­ing the cur­rent pan­demic,” Mr Pitt said.

“BHP is show­ing real con­fi­dence in the sec­tor and its sup­ports for work­ers is very wel­come. “What we can be sure of is that our re­sources sec­tor is strong and re­silient. Aus­tralians can be con­fi­dent that it will re­main a pow­er­house of the na­tion’s econ­omy pro­vid­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of jobs.”

The Gov­ern­ment also ac­knowl­edged the state­ment by Wood­side that it is de­fer­ring the fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sions on the Scar­bor­ough, Pluto Train 2 and Browse LNG projects un­til there is more cer­tainty about global gas de­mand and the green shoots of an eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

Wood­side has em­pha­sised this is a de­lay, not a can­cel­la­tion, and that these projects as part of the Bur­rup Hub are some of the cost com­pet­i­tive LNG in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the world.

In a sim­i­lar vein, San­tos has an­nounced the de­fer­ral of a fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sion on the Barossa Off­shore Gas Project to back­fill Dar­win LNG. Again, this is a de­fer­ral, not a can­cel­la­tion, with the Dar­win LNG and Barossa be­ing low cost brown­fields projects that can be brought quickly into de­vel­op­ment once con­di­tions im­prove.

Mr Pitt said the re­sources sec­tor had de­vel­oped a set of health and safety pro­to­cols to pro­tect work­ers and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, which in­cluded strict stan­dards on trans­port and pro­ce­dures on mine sites.

Where pos­si­ble ju­ris­dic­tions will work to­gether to max­imise the abil­ity of work­ers to move be­tween states and ter­ri­to­ries, with each state reg­u­larly re­view­ing its re­quire­ments in ac­cor­dance with the ad­vice from the Aus­tralian Health Pro­tec­tion Prin­ci­pal Com­mit­tee and re­spec­tive State and Ter­ri­tory Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cers.

“The re­sources sec­tor re­mains well po­si­tioned to lead Aus­tralia’s eco­nomic re­cov­ery,” Mr Pitt said.

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