$6.6 million from resources sector to support WA community through COVID-19

Close to $7 million has been contributed by the Western Australian resources sector through a COVID-19 Community Support Initiative to benefit local communities throughout the State.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) established the initiative in the face of the COVID19 outbreak and its members were quick to provide their financial support, to be distributed between three key WA organisations – Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations (RFDS WO), Foodbank WA and Lifeline WA.

CME Chief Executive Paul Everingham said the funding would assist COVID-19 patients in remote and regional WA, as well as support mental health and provide essential supplies to vulnerable community members.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, the WA resources sector’s highest priority is the health and safety of its people, their families and communities,” Mr Everingham said.

“The sector is extremely grateful for being allowed to continue to operate in this environment and does not take the responsibility lightly.

“The resources sector has come together in solidarity at a time when the West Australian community is being asked to do the same thing.

“Our member companies are keen to collectively do something to further support our resources sector workforce, as well as the broader WA community, who are becoming increasingly challenged by current events.

“So far, Albemarle Lithium, AngloGold Ashanti Australia, BHP, Chevron Australia, CITIC Pacific Mining, Fortescue Metals Group, Gold Fields, Gold Road Resources, Mount Gibson Iron, Newcrest Mining, Ramelius Resources, Regis Resources, Rio Tinto, Roy Hill, Saracen Minerals, South32, Talison Lithium, Transalta Australia and Woodside Energy have contributed to the initiative, with further companies finalising their investment over the coming days and weeks.

“We are all in this together and we will stand with the WA community to overcome this challenge.”

Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations (RFDS WO) CEO Rebecca Tomkinson said the contribution would help the RFDS boost their service.

“We have been a trusted health care partner in Western Australia for more than 90 years. We are there to help a mate when they need us the most – and that time is now, in the coming weeks and the many months ahead. We are incredibly grateful for the critical support from CME member companies which will assist us towards bolstering our service for the surge capacity we will need to respond across regional WA,” Ms Tomkinson said.

Foodbank WA CEO Greg Hebble said the funding has come at a crucial time for the food relief charity as supplies are at an all-time low and demand is expected to surge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support of CME as it will help us continue to provide a reliable supply of food and groceries to our charity partners and welfare agencies, to help the most vulnerable members of the community put food on the table,” said Mr Hebble.

Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor said the significant contribution from CME’s members will save lives.

“Lifeline WA is eternally grateful for the overwhelming response from the Western Australian Government, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy and its members for prioritizing the mental health needs of our community at this crucial time. It is absolutely essential that we ensure our services have the capability to respond effectively to people who need our help. This significant contribution to Lifeline WA will save lives. We want to reassure every Western Australian that we are still here for you, at any time you need us on 13 11 14.”

Premier Mark McGowan welcomed the Community Support Initiative and thanked CME member companies for their efforts in responding to COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything we have ever experienced in Western Australia.

“All sections of the community have a responsibility to play their part in responding to COVID-19, and I acknowledge Western Australia’s resources sector for its efforts to date.

“This is a fantastic initiative that will provide vital support to people in regional WA, in particular those living in remote communities, who are particularly vulnerable during this time.

“I thank all Western Australians during this extremely challenging time and stress once again – we will get through these challenging times if we continue to work together.”

Mr Everingham said contributions to the COVID-19 initiative are above and beyond the significant contributions made by the resources sector to support numerous other organisations/charities across Western Australia and Australia, prior to, during and beyond COVID-19, including:

• Up to $160 million from Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation and Fortescue Metals Group to procure and distribute medical supplies and increase testing;

• $25 million from Rio Tinto to support global grassroots community

COVID-19 preparedness and recovery, on top of its recent extension of its $15 million Royal Flying Doctors partnership to support health for remote communities in Western Australia;

• BHP establishing a $50 million Vital Resources Fund to help support regional Australian communities in its areas of operation, which are facing the significant challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows BHP’s commitment to deliver $100 million into small, local and Indigenous businesses by accelerating payments and reducing payment terms to seven days (from 30 days), and to employ a further 1,500 people to support its Australian operations; and

• Woodside will establish a $10 million COVID-19 Community Fund to provide direct support to the communities where they are active.

“The generosity of our member companies during this crisis has been overwhelming and is reflective of the top priority they place on protecting the health and safety of all of their employees and Western Australian communities,” Mr Everingham said.

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