Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) has suspended with immediate effect all its international flights to Cairns, Australia following reports that five of its passengers who travelled out this week tested positive while doing their hotel quarantine in Cairns.
The Company stated: “We take the situation very seriously and have been in close liaison with the Queensland Police and Queensland Health. We have suspended the regularly-scheduled passenger flights for this week and next week going into Cairns.”
“We will seek approval for a flight scheduled for next week which will transport COVID-19 testing swabs for analysis in a Queensland laboratory. The flight will not carry passengers.”
The Company noted that it had followed necessary protocols which require passengers to receive a negative test result within 72 hours of travel adding that “we have been transferring FIFO expatriates since the pandemic began using this process and have not previously recorded a positive case”.
Acknowledging its responsibilities to the Cairns and Australian communities the Company advised it is “working closely with the Queensland authorities to review measures and minimise any chance of a recurrence”.
OTML also stated that its operations are continuing and that a mass testing program has commenced to ensure all its workforce are tested, with those returning a positive Covid19 result being isolated and provided the utmost care and support.
The Company added it was also working closely with the PNG health, and provincial authorities in Western Province to address an escalating trend of community transmission, which it said was putting pressure on the mine.
Since the pandemic started last year, the company has operated with several key control measures in place including an extensive testing program and the use of Entry Point Centres in Port Moresby, Tabubil, Kiunga and Bige where employees and contractors are quarantined, tested, and cleared before they resume work. The EPCs have been effective in identifying cases before they enter OTML’s operations.
“We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of our COVID-19 control measures and will make adjustments as required,” OTML stated.