“The apprehension is more related to the quarantine regime related to positive cases and/or close contacts, and which is under review by the Minister of Health and it will probably be modified and it could align with the changes and east coast restrictions,” he told investors. Thursday.
“It’s at 14 days…it becomes a problem as you dominate more cases, but we think that will be reviewed and there will be a risk-based approach and that will involve a lot of the RAT [rapid antigen test] kits.
“Can it be 10 days? Can it be seven? Can it be five? Can you test someone every day?
Double edged sword
The loosening of the WA border is seen as a double-edged sword for the resource industry, which will soon be able to tap into a larger labor pool but will likely encounter higher absenteeism rates. high as the virus spreads in the state.
BHP and Rio Tinto have suggested that short-term disruption is likely as the virus affects the state’s workforce in the months following the February 5 border change.
Mr Tonkin said Northern Star’s staff turnover rate had been close to 30% in recent months, and he predicted this could increase when the border is relaxed.
“I don’t expect the loosening of borders to help. I think there will be a drain of labor out of state,” he said.
Northern Star’s flagship Superpit mine, near Kalgoorlie-Boulder, employs both residential and overhead workers, while the company has other mines further north, mostly staffed by FIFO workers.
The FIFO sector has been seen as particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 as workers spend weeks living in small camps with communal facilities and sharing buses and planes.
But Mr Tonkin said managing the virus among residential workers, like those in Kalgoorlie, would be even more difficult.
“The plane, the plane is much easier to maintain and control, it’s residential where we see the ongoing interaction in the community and then coming back to work the next day is where the challenges are,” said he declared.
“It’s really incumbent on staff to step up and understand and be careful about large gatherings in the event of a large outbreak.”
The Kalgoorlie mines have produced more gold than expected over the past three months, helping to spark an 11% rise in Northern Star shares on Thursday.
The company’s Pogo mine in the US state of Alaska continued to fall short of expectations, but Barrenjoey analyst Glyn Lawcock said there were encouraging signs at the mine in December.
Pogo is currently not extracting enough ore to operate its plant at full capacity and Mr Tonkin said the focus is firmly on increasing underground mining rates.