COVID-19

COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 UPDATE

We are taking action to support our employees and communities as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Our aim is to keep our operations running, safely, and we are monitoring the situation closely.

The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak has been assessed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a pandemic, and it continues to progress rapidly across the world.

Here are some resources you can turn to if you have questions:

At Rio Tinto, our focus is on the health and safety of our employees and the communities where we operate and on keeping our operations running safely, so we can continue to contribute to local and national economies and serve our customers. 

We have taken extensive measures across the business to help protect our people and communities, and have increased these as the pandemic spreads, in line with guidance or directives from governments and advice from international health organisations on best practice.  

We have also pledged $25 million to support global grassroots, community COVID-19 preparedness and recovery. This takes our total estimated voluntary global community contributions to around $60 million for 2020.

“For us the focus is to maintain a business as usual approach with many safeguards at a very unusual time. Safety and health come first as we keep delivering for our customers, our host governments and our communities.” 

J-S Jacques
Chief Executive

This is a global issue and we believe everyone has a role to play. We intend to do our part.

Our operations

Our operational teams are continuing to run their businesses as they provide support to local communities – from manufacturing hand sanitiser, to giving protective equipment to hospitals and funding local response initiatives. Most of our assets continue to operate. However, we have moved to slow down some of our operations in line with action being taken by various governments. 

Working with our customers and business continuity

We are continuing to work with our customers to fulfil orders and meet their requirements while complying with government directives, with our commercial teams in our key locations focussing on business continuity and customer support. We are also looking at prioritising supply to customers making equipment to fight COVID-19, including aluminium oxygen tanks or copper used for its antibacterial properties in hospitals.

We have a global, site and regional business resilience teams to keep our operations running safely, enabling commercial supply chain continuity, and to plan for future eventualities under various scenarios. Critical infrastructure at each of our operations has been assessed and there a continuity plan in place. 

After all the hard work and dedication and sacrifice, sometimes the only thing you can say is thank you. So from all of us to all of you – thank you. Proud to be in this together.

Latest Releases

19 May 2020

MCRI launches landmark study into children's COVID-19 immune responses with assistance from Rio Tinto

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) has launched its COVID Immune research program to investigate COVID-19 effects on children’s immune systems. The new program, an Australian first, has been made possible with support from Rio Tinto, which has donated A$670,000 towards the effort. The project will leverage five of MCRI’s large and unique popul

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15 May 2020

Rio Tinto pledges A$500,000 to CareFlight as part of new A$1.1 million commitment to East Arnhem communities

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Rio Tinto has pledged A$500,000 to CareFlight Northern Operations to support emergency aeromedical care in the Northern Territory as part of a A$1.1 million commitment to support East Arnhem communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The contribution underlines Rio Tinto’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of the region and to provide resources to combat the effects of

Read more

14 May 2020

Rio Tinto supporting WA jobs as COVID-19 recovery phase ramps up

MELBOURNE, Australia--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in Western Australia is continuing to recruit for skilled roles, apprentices, graduates and Aboriginal trainees to fill vacancies as the company progresses its development plans in the Pilbara. There are more than 300 jobs currently available including skilled operational and maintenance roles such as frontline supervisors,

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Protecting employees

We have put strict protocols in place globally, in line with government guidance and directives, and advice from leading medical experts to keep employees, contractors and partners safe. 

The majority of our employees work at our operations and cannot work from home, so the company has implemented a number of controls to support them, which include but are not limited to:

  • Introducing travel restrictions: restricting the amount of Fly-In, Fly-Out (FIFO) people at sites and implementing changes to rosters where possible; implementing temperature and other rapid screening tests of workforce at airports, in alignment with local regulation and guidance; reducing the number of flights to our FIFO sites due to roster changes; and implementing screening questionnaires and hotlines that provide employees with health assessments by medical advisors on fitness for work, including fatigue management. We are also working with local towns, governments and community agencies to build on the existing protocols for social distancing.
    Learn more about what we are doing in Western Australia to combat the spread and impacts of COVID-19 >
  • Implementing social distancing protocols: reducing the number of people attending pre-start meetings; keeping at least two metres (six feet) apart; closure of all bars, gyms and pools at mining camp sites to limit social interaction; bus, light vehicle and flight configurations changed to extend the distance between passengers. Site meeting rooms are also marked to indicate the maximum number of participants admissible. 
  • Increasing personal hygiene: implementing controls for personal hygiene including hand washing prior to entering dining rooms; increased frequency of cleaning at high touch areas; and providing extra hand sanitiser and work station cleaning areas. Buffet-style food services in some operations have been eliminated or modified. 
  • Increasing support for our employees: providing an on-call service for employees to return home for health or family emergencies and supporting employees’ mental health through our employee assistance programme. Isolation areas have also been identified and site protocols established; medical teams in place with temporary clinics prepared. 

A number of our regional and corporate offices have been shut and our employees are working from home, following government protocols in each jurisdiction. In recognition that schools and day cares are closing, or have closed, we are providing flexible work arrangements to support our affected employees and their families. 

147 Years of Putting Safety First

Every shift, every day, nothing is more important than safety. Because we’ve always been in this together.

Protecting host communities

We aim to keep our communities safe by doing what we can to not put them at risk. First and foremost, we are asking our teams and partners to stay aware of national and local updates and follow all safety and hygiene protective measures recommended, including washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, using alcohol-based hand sanitisers and maintaining at least two metres (six feet) of distance from others when you do interact. We are also asking our employees and contractors to ensure that every personal risk mitigation measure is followed, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and following journey management guidelines.

If, for whatever reason, physical interaction with any community is risky, we are asking our employees and partners to turn to non-physical ways to interact or to cancel or postpone the engagement. 

Our employees and contractors cannot visit vulnerable communities – those in which underlying health challenges are prevalent, or those in remote areas where health care infrastructure is not strong – without the express approval of appropriate community and Rio Tinto leadership.  Employees from such communities have been provided with support to return to their community. 

Our $25 million additional investment to support global grassroots, community COVID-19 preparedness and recovery will predominantly focus on value-in-kind opportunities. Some of these measures are well progressed, and include:

  • The supply of masks and protective equipment to support emergency and health professionals
  • Donations to national and local communities, hospitals and international agencies
  • Provision of ventilation units and temporary medical units in communities 
  • Further investment in education and financial literacy programs, as remote learning becomes the global norm for children, including the recently announced Future Minds Accelerator partnership
  • The manufacturing of hand sanitiser at certain of our sites 
Learn more about our community investment >

We are actively incorporating the feedback we receive from communities into our local planning and approach guidelines, and offering support to those who need help preparing or communicating emergency plans.  

Working across the industry and with governments

We continue to look for opportunities to share knowledge of response activities and to partner with others in the industry to find joint solutions to address and aid in the recovery from this global pandemic. We are actively contributing to COVID-19 related best practice forums in health, safety and communities, as established by the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM). 

We are working closely with governments around the world to ensure its operations can continue to contribute to society at this challenging time.

Learn more about our global economic contribution >

Other forms of support

We are looking at ways to support our communities and regions. Some examples:

Australia

In Western Australia, we are working with state and local governments, as well as the not-for-profit sector and community organisations, to play our part in the response and recovery effort – including in the Pilbara and regional FIFO communities.

For example, we contributed A$1 million to the Shire of Ashburton and A$1 million to the City of Karratha towards initiatives to drive economic stimulus and support community organisations and small businesses.

We are also investing A$1.25 million over five years in the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Queensland, adding to our longstanding support of the RFDS in Western Australia. This investment will help the RFDS deliver essential health services across the state, and will help build a new patient transfer facility in Weipa, while supporting an existing one at Gladstone.

And we have also pledged A$500,000 to CareFlight Northern Operations to support emergency aeromedical care in the Northern Territory as part of a A$1.1 million commitment to support East Arnhem communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada and the United States

We are investing $10 million in a variety of grassroots projects across Canada and the US to support local community efforts to fight COVID-19 and its social and economic impacts, along with supporting projects that maintain and create regional economic development.

Some of the initiatives include:

Canada
In Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean, Quebec, we donated 25,000 masks and other equipment worth around C$100,000 to the local health and social services authority.

BC Works, our aluminium operation in British Columbia, has donated $50,000 to the Kitimat General Hospital Foundation to help support during the COVID-19 crisis. BC Works has also donated gowns to local healthcare facilities and half masks with filters to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), donated a total of C$40,000, in cash and in kind, to the Labrador West Health Centre and the Sept-Iles Hospital Foundation to support patients and staff through this difficult time, including by providing tablet computers to help patients keep in touch with their loved ones. IOC also provided alternative housing  to Hope Haven, a Transition House for women experiencing violence or abuse – so they could offer accommodation to women and children affected by COVID-19 who are fleeing domestic violence and need to self-isolate.

In the Northwest Territories, our Diavik diamond mine is contributing C$60,000 to five Indigenous communities for food and other needs.

And through our employee donation matching initiative, we gave more than C$100,000 to four food banks in Havre-St-Pierre and Sorel-Tracy in Quebec, near our Rio Tinto Fer et Titane operations.

United States
In Arizona, the Resolution copper project partnered with the United Food Bank to deliver 75,000 meals to the White Mountain Apache Tribe. It also donated 50,000 cans of water to support tribes, in partnership with Ball Corp and Can’d Aid.

In California, home to US Borax, our borates business, we donated $10,000 to offer learning support and food assistance to families living near our facility at the Port of Los Angeles.

In Utah, our Kennecott copper operation is partnering with the Natural History Museum to run a digital education hub pilot to improve access to technology for students. 

China

In February, for example, we donated $1 million to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation to contribute to China’s nationwide medical effort, including to support hospital upgrades and the purchase of medical supplies in the areas most affected by the outbreak. We are also working with Chinese partners to identify other practical ways to offer support.

Mongolia

At the Oyu Tolgoi mine, employees and contractors organised a fundraising drive and raised MNT 145,543,000 ($52,500) to donate to the Mongolian Ministry of Health in support of its efforts to prevent the spread of the pandemic.