ROUNDTABLE: Representatives from council, CHDC and the resources sector.
ROUNDTABLE: Representatives from council, CHDC and the resources sector.

Resources roundtable pivots to coronavirus response

A GROUP that was formed last year to discuss the maintenance and future of the Central Highlands' resources sector this week declared its commitment to reducing the spread of coronavirus among its ranks.

The Resources Roundtable comprises Central Highlands Regional Council, Central Highlands Development Corporation, and nine mining companies - Kestrel, Sojitz, Ensham Idemitsu, Jellinbah, BMA, Yancoal, Bluff PCI Management, Coronado, and Glencore.

It first convened in October 2019 to "establish a new approach to collaboration" mayor Kerry Hayes said, and it met again in February.

Initially meant to discuss many topics, including industry promotion, rehabilitation, automation and post-mine futures, the assembly this week released a statement about managing COVID-19, the subject now supplanting all others.

The statement said that miners would adopt "enhanced cleaning and hygiene" and "health surveillance practices", and that there would be increased seat spacing for travelling workers.

Kestrel Coal Resources CEO Peter Smith said: "We are all rolling out comprehensive health checks for all staff before they travel to work and when they arrive on site.

"We are also limiting travel to essential people only and of course, travel with social distancing."

BHP workers considered at higher risk of debilitation or death upon contracting coronavirus were recently ordered to work from home or take paid leave.

Those workers are defined as those 65 or older - 50 for Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders - anyone with a chronic disease, and pregnant women.

CHDC Chief Executive Officer Sandra Hobbs said the resources sector provides about 35 per cent of jobs in the Central Highlands and creates $5 billion worth of product.

"The value and strategic importance of business continuity to the region's economy cannot be underestimated at this time," she said.

The panel plans to meet regularly. At present, it is expecting to convene four times a year.