Government updates

Latest information received from Government, including Queensland Health, the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME), the Department of Environment and Science (DES) and the Australian Government.

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This page contains the latest information or advice received from Government, including Queensland Health, the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME), the Department of Environment and Science (DES) and the Australian Government.

For more information, please refer in the first instance to relevant Government websites such as Federal Government website and Queensland Health website.

COVID Testing

Please see here for a map of Queensland Health locations for testing SARS-CoV-2 samples across Queensland (current as of 11 June 2020). For further information regarding testing locations see SNP and QML information below or links to the right. For any further questions please contact Brett Bricknell, General Manager Pathology Qld.

Members should note that thresholds for testing of resource industry workers for COVID-19 have been removed. Any worker who displays any symptoms of fever, runny nose, headaches etc can now be tested immediately. Testing pre-requisites of contact with a diagnosed person, interstate or overseas travel to be eligible for testing no longer apply to resource industry workers. Companies are urged to have anyone who is displaying symptoms isolated and tested immediately and tests can be arranged through your medical officer and medical practitioner.

The Minerals Council of Australia recently circulated a letter that they had received from the Department of Health regarding the use of Medicare for employment related pathology testing for COVID-19.

The letter with advice on this matter, is attached for your information.

Regional Testing Centres

Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology (SNP):

Click here for a list of all the SNP QLD state-wide dedicated COVID-19 collection centres.

QML:

Click here for a list of all QML QLD state-wide COVID-19 specialist collection centres.

Federal Economic package

The Federal Government has released a range of measures as an economic response to the Coronavirus, including stimulus measures for small businesses. For more information please see the treasury website.

Another useful document is this ‘at a glance’ assistance program outline.

State Development updates

Please see update from the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning distributed to QRC members on 16 April 2020.

Note the Department’s commitment to review the pipeline of infrastructure projects, both public and private, to identify opportunities to accelerate projects into the construction phase. This review includes:

  • Consideration of the powers available to the Coordinator-General
  • Economic Development Queensland’s role in prioritising assessment of shovel-ready development applications within Priority Development Areas
  • Use of appropriate planning instruments under the Planning Act 2016

Department of Environment & Science updates

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has published a Covid-19 related compliance issue notification form which gives simple guidance on how to set out what condition / requirement (or plural) of an Environmental Authority or related document a company is looking to DES to seek relief from compliance, eg low risk conditions such as monitoring requirements. The pro-forma recognises that unless a company is contacted by DES within 10 business days for more information, the activity should continue as per the proposed alternatives or interim risk mitigation measures.  DES will also consider amendments by agreement under S215 of the Environmental Protection Act (EP Act), so companies should contact their business centre directly if they would like this approach considered.

In addition, on 21 May 2020 the Justice and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Amendment Act 2020 was passed by the Queensland parliament amending the EP Act to allow for the Minister, by signed notice published on the department’s website, to make a declaration— (a) giving a stated holder of a stated relevant approval an exemption from complying with a stated condition of the approval; or (b) giving the holders of a relevant approval of a stated type an exemption from complying with a stated condition of the approval. This exemption has been specifically established for enabling low risk exemptions from compliance in a more legally certain way than simply using the notification form.

Companies should be mindful that they are not asking for permission to cause environmental harm or seeking blanket exemptions from compliance.

From July 2020, DES has re-started compliance inspections, but are doing so at a measured pace.

View or download:

Department of Natural Resources, Mines & Energy updates

Support to meet tenure obligations

QRC received the following advice from the Department on 16 April 2020:

The department understands that the resources sector, along with many other important parts of the Queensland economy, is experiencing difficulties in the current economic climate.

It is important that resource companies that have concerns around their ability to meet their tenure obligations, as a result of COVID-19, remain in close contact with the department so that we can work with them through these challenges.

Applications for variations to work program and expenditure commitments can be submitted via normal lodgement processes, such as MyMinesOnline.

MyMinesOnline

The QRC received the attached correspondence from the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) on 2 April 2020 regarding MMOL usage and business continuity during this period.

While DNRME business centres are closed for in-person lodgements, you can still lodge resources authority applications, lodge dealings and make payments through MyMinesOnline.

Read DNRME resource authority application guides which provide detailed steps for lodging and making payments through the MMOL system.

If you have any questions, contact the relevant Assessment Hub or email Resources.Info@dnrme.qld.gov.au

Queensland Exploration Program suspended

The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy recently consulted with the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and the Queensland branch of the Australia Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) on the upcoming tender releases for the Queensland Exploration Program (QEP).

Forthcoming tenders for the 2020 Queensland Exploration Program were scheduled for:

  • Coal tender – for 2 areas – open: 26 March; close: May; announce outcome: August
  • P&G tender – for 12 areas – open: April; close: June; announce outcome: September

DNRME were concerned that it may be difficult to resource these tender applications during the proposed released periods due to COVID-19 impacts on workforces. As such, DNRME have decided to put the release of both tenders on hold for the immediate future and revisit the decision in 2-3 months. 

DNRME has indicated that timeframes for announcing the successful tender for land already released under the QEP are unchanged. 

Health and Safety Compliance

Please find attached information released by Resources Safety and Health DNRME in recognition of the difficulties that the resources industry is likely to be experiencing in meeting their safety and health compliance obligations as a result of COVID-19.

DNRME have requested that all resources companies review the attached guidance note, and consider it in conjunction with the Resources Safety and Health Compliance Policy.

A number of QRC member companies have already made submissions to DNRME in response to earlier similar advice on more specific compliance difficulties, for example difficulties in meeting their obligations under the Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme.  DNRME have indicated that two examples of how these difficulties are being managed through a risk-based approach have been well received.  The QRC has attached these de-identified documents in the hope that they might provide some guidance as to the kind of proactive response DNRME might be seeking from companies experiencing difficulties in strictly complying with other statutory requirements as a result of:

  • a lack of, or limited, availability of required services due to the emergency;
  • ensuring social distancing and other protective measures in place to respond the emergency;
  • other matters unique to the COVID-19 emergency.

Broadened testing criteria

Queensland Health is introducing broadened testing criteria for people in Cairns, Gold Coast and Brisbane. All individuals in these areas who present with respiratory issues will be tested – not just those who have recently travelled or been in contact with someone who has recently travelled. This is a pre-emptive measure to allow Queensland Health to get a picture of whether there is community transmission in those parts of the state.

Critical resource sector employee exemption process

Companies from across the resources sector have been working quickly to implement the ‘critical resource sector employee’ exemption safeguard measures to keep industry moving, and to ensure the safety of workers, workers’ families and the regional communities they operate within.

As of Wednesday 8 April, 365 exemption applications from resources sector companies across the state had been lodged with the Queensland Government, with 221 of those approved as at 10 April. Those that have not yet been approved are largely due to additional information being required.  To ensure the Government is able to process this as quickly as possible, double check all of the information in the application has been provided as per the guidelines to ensure a smooth and quick assessment process.

In addition, all contractors engaged by a company and seeking an exemption, will need a letter from that company detailing why they are considered critical.

Read more about preparing and lodging applications for workers to be considered as an exempt critical resources sector employee

Self-isolation for Diagnosed Cases of COVID-19 Direction

Ensure you are aware of the self-isolation requirements for any staff who are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Chief Health Officer’s Self-isolation for diagnosed cases of COVID-19 Direction requires if a worker is diagnosed with COVID-19 while on site, they must return directly to their home or hotel, and stay there until cleared from self-isolation.

Where the diagnosed person is required to travel to get to their home or hotel that travel must be by private vehicle or in a taxi or ride share, and the diagnosed person must wear a protective mask.

Read the Directive for further information.

Also ensure you are satisfying the screening and other health and hygiene requirements as per your approved Health Plan.