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Cross-border travel arrangements update for South Australia's resources sector

Update from the Department for Energy and Mining Chief Executive
Friday 27 March 2020 

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The resources sectors’ commitment to adhering to the most stringent health measures and to conducting only essential activities is appreciated. This commitment is critical to the sustainability of the current cross-border travel arrangements for key industries and their employees, contractors and subcontractors.

As these arrangements have come into operation, clarity on the scope of exemptions and self-assessment has improved, which has enabled the department to provide continued support for cross-border Fly In - Fly Out and Drive In - Drive Out operations across the mining, oil, gas and energy sectors in South Australia and across the country.

The Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) acknowledges that the critical commercial risk to the sector is the potential for further constraints on operations - either through Government direction, exposure of an operating site to the COVID-19 virus, or both.

To minimise this commercial risk, DEM urges companies to continue to reduce total staff movements, including ceasing non-essential tasks and lengthening rosters; and by collaborating across the sector - such as on shared health solutions, and assisting contractors of all sizes to identify and implement health protocols and compliance.

In preparation for worst-case conditions, companies are urged to continue strengthening contingency plans for additional constraints. I also strongly recommend administrative processes in support of contact tracing and incident response are strengthened.

Many companies have now provided their transmission prevention control, isolation and contact tracing measures to SA Health for advice. It is extremely important for our sector that all companies go through this process regardless of size. I urge anyone who is yet to submit a plan and a key contact to provide these as soon as possible to SA Health by email to angela.lee@sa.gov.au

To answer three common queries fielded by DEM in recent days:

  1. FIFO transit: where overnighting between connecting flights is unavoidable - transiting FIFO staff are able to move from the airport direct to a hotel and remain in their room in isolation until return to the airport for their connecting flight. Airport hotels are preferable.
  2. SA-based FIFO workers: on return to SA, subject to meeting health criteria (no symptoms/no contact with COVID-19 cases), FIFO workers are exempt from self-quarantine requirements.
  3. Critical supplies: Freight of critical materials and project infrastructure components is exempt under the State Coordinator’s Direction and may continue provided companies have implemented infection control protocols.

The South Australian Government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the mining, oil, gas and energy sectors during this unprecedented health emergency.

As the situation continues to evolve and new information becomes available, the Department is committed to providing further advice in a timely manner. Continue to direct any queries on cross-border arrangements to martin.reid@sa.gov.au

The department is also aware that cyber security attacks are increasing to take advantage of the coronavirus containment response. The department recommends that businesses limit their online responses to trusted sources of information such as the national telephone hook-up and official department messages.

The South Australian Government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the mining, oil, gas and energy sectors during this unprecedented health emergency.

Thank you again for your significant support in responding to these travel arrangements.

Paul Heithersay

Chief Executive
Department for Energy and Mining