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WA resources sector provides $500,000 to fund COVID-19 research

The Western Australian resources sector will provide half a million dollars to fund a COVID-19 population study which will undertake wide-scale asymptomatic testing of FIFO workers.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) and its members have been working with the WA Government on the DETECT (Defining and Monitoring the Prevalence of SARS CoV2 (COVID-19) in the Community) program, which is focusing on testing targeted cohorts such as students, teachers, health care workers and police.

CME Chief Executive Paul Everingham said CME had established a COVID-19 Resources Research Fund to financially support the FIFO DETECT project, which members had contributed more than $500,000 towards.

“The resources sector is one of the state’s largest employers, employing approximately 120,000 people, and the opportunity to use any screening processes throughout the sector to contribute to learning more about the virus is enormous,” he said.

“The WA resources sector is extremely supportive of including FIFO workers in the DETECT Project as it aligns with the sector’s commitment to keep its workforce and the wider community safe,” he said.
“The health and safety of workers is the number one priority of the WA resources sector. The testing conducted through the study will act as an additional layer within industry’s suite of measures to further protect our workforce and the communities in which we operate from the risks posed by COVID-19,” he said.

“The study will position us as a world leader in identifying prevalence in essential cohorts, validating testing techniques and informing broader academic research and provide valuable insight into COVID-19. Companies in the sector will be able to participate in the research on an ‘opt-in’ basis, with high volumes of tests able to be conducted.”

Financial contributors to the fund to date include AngloGold Ashanti Australia, BHP, CITIC Pacific Mining, Fortescue Metals Group, Glencore, Perenti Group, Regis Resources, Roy Hill and Rio Tinto. CME expects the list of companies involved to grow over the coming days.

BHP, Chevron Australia, Mineral Resources, Rio Tinto and Woodside Energy will also contribute substantially to the project through established screening and research mechanisms, as a result of recent significant investment and proactive work.

Mr Everingham said the WA resources sector was taking the threat of COVID-19 very seriously and had implemented significant protocols to ensure the virus did not spread.

“The sector is in constant dialogue with Government to ascertain the most appropriate levels of movement restrictions; physical distancing; heightened hygiene protocols and more,” he said.