WA mining magnate Chris Ellison has ruled out mandatory vaccinations for his company’s workforce at this stage, saying he does not want to scare off potential workers during a skills shortage.
- Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison says he does not want to enforce mandatory vaccination at this stage
- The mining industry continues to face ongoing labour shortages complicated by border restrictions
- Mr Ellison says WA’s resources sector will require an additional 30,000 to 40,000 workers in the next three years
Mr Ellison’s Mineral Resources employs more than 5,000 employees and contractors across the state and on Wednesday posted a $1.1 billion profit for the 2020-21 financial year.
The billionaire told investors and media on a conference call on Wednesday that the company’s priority was trying to secure vaccinations for workers and their families who want to be vaccinated.
It follows announcements by companies in Australia, including Qantas and SPC, and overseas that they would be making it compulsory for their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I don’t think we want to be out there scaring our workforce off,” Mr Ellison said.
“Our first port of call is to get them vaccinated, and our aim is to be able to secure our own vaccines, and be able to run it through our COVID testing facilities that we run right around the state.
“So all of our people are going to regularly need to have booster shots.
“But I don’t think we’re going to come out and say that it’s mandatory to have it to go to [the work] site at this stage.”
Mr Ellison said WA’s resources sector would need about 40,000 additional workers over the next three years.
He said the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy was working to develop quarantine facilities to safely bring workers into the state.
Mr Ellison’s comments came after one of Australia’s biggest gold miners said it was strongly urging its workforce to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but stopped short of making it mandatory.
Evolution Mining’s WA workforce is set to grow by another 350 with its recent $400 million acquisition of the Kundana gold mine near Kalgoorlie.
Evolution’s executive chairman Jake Klein said he was disappointed Australia was falling behind the rest of the world on vaccination rates.
“The only way through this is to get people vaccinated,” he said.
Vaccinations crucial for borders
WA mining entrepreneur Bill Beament also urged Australians to vaccinate against COVID-19 to enable the recruitment of additional workers for WA’s latest mining boom.
The former head of gold miner Northern Star Resources launched his latest venture — a mining company focused on green energy metals — at last week’s Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie.
“I just wish everyone could go and get vaccinated in a hurry so we can open the borders … because that’s our biggest issue at the moment, getting people,” he said.
“Last time we had the boom — from mid-2000 to 2010 – we imported 31,000 out of the 42,000 people we added to the industry.
“They mostly came from overseas and obviously we’re getting no one from there at the moment.”