BHP considers making COVID vaccinations mandatory at Australian sites

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The world’s biggest miner on Monday set out measures it was taking to support vaccination in communities where it operates including on-site jabs at its Mt Arthur Coal Mine in New South Wales state that are to begin this week.

The state has become the epicentre of Australia’s current coronavirus outbreak, having declared a record 1,290 new cases on Monday as the nation struggles to contain the highly contagious Delta variant.

Although Australia has used a system of strict lockdowns and quarantine to keep coronavirus infection and death rates lower than in most comparable nations, the Delta variant is now pressuring health services. Residents of its two biggest cities have been on strict lockdown for more than a month.

BHP said in a statement that it was actively assessing vaccination as a condition of entry to its workplaces.

“As vaccinations become more accessible to all Australians, we have been encouraging our people to better protect themselves and their families and communities, and we will look for further opportunities to increase access and uptake of vaccinations,” Edgar Basto, who runs BHP’s Minerals Australia business, said.

BHP expects to complete its assessment in September, with a policy likely to come into effect in early 2022, once people have had a reasonable opportunity to be fully vaccinated.

The miner is funding a new vaccine hub in central Queensland near its coal joint venture with Mitsubishi Corp, and is working with South Australian health authorities to establish a mobile clinic near its Olympic Dam copper mine.

It is also working with health officials in Western Australia to support vaccine rollouts in the Pilbara region, the heart of its iron ore operations, it said.

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