From the Secretariat (Issue 110)

By on June 3, 2020

COVID-19 and the extractive industry

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of CMPA reports on the affects of COVID-19 and the extractive industry.

I hope you are all well in these challenging times. The extractive industry was recognised as an essential service and so has been fortunate to continue operating since the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. Social distancing and hygiene practices put in place by Members at their sites appear to be working. Let us hope that these practices continue to work with Members remaining vigilant.

The CMPA Management Committee was fortunate to have a meeting via video conference with the Minister for Resources the Hon Jaclyn Symes MP on the 12th May 2020. The meeting was held to update the Minister on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on the extractive industry and to propose recommendations for the recovery phase.

Each Member of the Management Committee spoke on the industry with the common theme being that it is travelling well (in comparison with other industries) at the moment, however, East Gippsland is the exception with being hit by the drought, the loss of the timber industry, bushfires and now the pandemic with a number of quarries accessing the Federal Government’s Jobkeeper payment.

The expected rebuild after the bushfires has not eventuated, for example, DELWP not re-sheeting fire access tracks. There was consensus that demand is currently or expected to drop off due to a lack of pipeline of shovel ready private and government infrastructure projects across Victoria. Regional road and rail projects are not being funded, roads between regional centers are that degraded that trucks have to take longer routes (for example, travelling down to Melbourne from Bendigo, using the M80 ring road and then travelling back out to Geelong)

The Minister explained that there is a taskforce consisting of the Treasurer, and the Ministers for Planning, Transport and Resources that is committed to private and government infrastructure projects across the State. An announcement will be made soon on this infrastructure program. The Management Committee welcomed this news as well as asking the Minister whether there was anything the extractive industry could do to assist Government during these troubling times.

The Minister was very impressed with the industry proactive response to the pandemic and would like feedback once the infrastructure program is announced.

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