A multinational resources company blamed a drop in production on a lack of enthusiastic employees.
Rio Tinto reported nearly all mineral production activity declined during the first quarter of 2021. This included copper (-9 per cent), iron ore pellets and concentrate (-8 per cent), titanium dioxide (-5 per cent) and bauxite (-2 per cent). The only exception was aluminium, which produced 803 kilo tonnes and jumped 3 per cent.
Closed for weeks
“Bauxite production of 13.6 million tonnes was 2 per cent lower than the first quarter of 2020 due to wet weather in Eastern Australia,” the company said in its latest quarterly report.
“The port at the Amrun mine closed for 14 days due to large swells and cyclones … [and] we shipped 9 million tonnes of bauxite to third parties in the first quarter, 5 per cent lower than the same period of 2020 due to the major weather events causing shipment delays.”
Unavailable for work
Rio criticised government restrictions that helped contain the pandemic for affecting staff mobility and availability. It also blamed “fixed plant reliability and above-average wet weather in the mines.”
“In the first quarter, labour resource availability and weather challenges disrupted maintenance in the [Pilbara] mine processing facilities, which will be prioritised for the rest of the year,” the company said.
“We have proactively managed COVID-19 challenges as well as some wet weather impacts in Australia, and overall project delivery is satisfactory. Uncertainty continues to exist around local situations, border access, availability and movement of people and goods.”
The proponent is carefully watching how long state and territory governments will leave their respective borders open during the national vaccine roll-out.
“With the outbreaks in the eastern states of Australia, we are closely monitoring state border closures and applying site access controls and travel management protocols,” it said.
“At our iron ore and salt assets in the Pilbara, Western Australia, our frontline port and health workers have been made eligible to receive the vaccination should they choose to do so. The remainder of the workforce will be offered the vaccination in line with the [rollout].”
Rio has begun a recruitment drive to hire more residential and fly-in fly-out workers across a number of operations. The following positions have been advertised:
- manager economic development and participation
- mechanical maintainers (multiple positions)
- superintendent site services and electrical
- principal advisor workplace strategy
- senior advisor asset management
- electrical maintainers (multiple)
- fixed plant operators (multiple)
- network locomotive driver
- senior project engineer
- manager maintenance
- mobile plant operator
- controllers (multiple)
- field hydrogeologist
- full stack developer
- innovation advisor
- advisor facilities
- auto electrician
- service person
Successful applicants will be offered permanent positions, a variety of day or day and night rotating rosters, full domestic relocation assistance, company housing in all residential towns, subsidised rent and utilities, two flights to Perth each year for employees and family members, student boarding assistance, staff discounts and comprehensive medical benefits for employees and their families.
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