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Ok Tedi Halts Operations in Order to Contain the Spread of Covid-19

by PNG Business News - March 19, 2021

COVID-19 has forced Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) to pause operations in order to protect its employees, communities, and operations.

Due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases at the mine site and in Papua New Guinea, OTML will temporarily pause operations on Friday, March 19th for 14 days to prevent further virus transmission within its operations.

This suspension, according to OTML, coincides with the PNG government's National Isolation Strategy, which will go into effect on Monday, March 22nd. The success of the control steps, as well as when the virus has been contained, will decide when regular operations will resume.

The decision to halt operations reflects OTML's commitment to take all reasonable steps to ensure the protection, health, and well-being of its staff, families, contractors, and host communities, as well as to allow a stable, cost-effective, and timely resumption of operations for the benefit of all stakeholders.

During the suspension, the organization will take steps such as repatriating non-essential workers to their home provinces and introducing a mass testing program for its staff.

Any staff may be forced to work regular hours during the suspension of operations in order to maintain essential services or for treatment and maintenance. The suspension is expected to result in a revenue loss of about PGK210 million, which will have a direct effect on foreign currency inflows into PNG.

Meanwhile, the Company is weighing its options in light of the Australian government's decision to temporarily halt the fly-in and fly-out of mineworkers based in Australia.

It said, “We do not anticipate significant disruption to our operations as a result of the Australian  Government’s announcement, however, we are looking at alternative ways to repatriate  several of our expatriate employees during the suspension of operations.”  

After COVID-19 cases were discovered in Queensland from international travellers in hotel quarantine, the company declared that it was suspending international charter flights into Australia. OTML hires over 1,800 people directly, with less than 4% of them being expatriates.

OTML also confirmed that it would collaborate with the PNG government to help with vaccine procurement and distribution for OTML employees.



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