Fortescue worker tests positive for covid-19 at Western Australia site

(Image courtesy of Fortescue Metals Group.)

Fortescue Metals Group said on Wednesday a maintenance contractor working at its Cloudbreak iron ore mine in Western Australia had tested positive for covid-19 but that there had been no material impact to operations.

The maintenance worker was asymptomatic at the site between July 20 and 27 and is now isolating, awaiting further testing, Fortescue said in a statement. Operations have not been materially affected.

The state, home to Australia’s big iron ore miners including BHP Group and Rio Tinto, has avoided major covid-19 outbreaks through quarantine and testing, and fast border closures when infections have emerged in eastern states.

As a result, production of Australia’s most valuable export has seen little disruption from covid-19 infections, when compared to other major suppliers such as Brazil.

Fortescue said that others who were in the mine during those dates are not required to isolate unless they were found to have been in close contact with the worker, the company said.

Fortescue said the worker returned a “weak positive test result”, adding that it was helping the state health department with contact tracing.

Australia is dealing with outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant, forcing several states to tighten restrictions. The Perth and Peel regions in Western Australia recently came out of a four-day lockdown.

(By Harish Sridharan and Melanie Burton; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Louise Heavens)

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