COVID-19 Response

We are supporting our employees and communities as the COVID-19 situation evolves. 

Most countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and many are experiencing outbreaks.

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 are monitoring the situation closely. 

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.

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. 

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 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. 

Latest COVID-19 Releases

23 July 2020

Rio Tinto successfully operates its global mine to market diamonds business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

Rio Tinto has continued to produce and market its diamonds throughout the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rio Tinto, 100 per cent owner of the Argyle diamond mine in Australia and the operator and 60 percent owner of the Diavik diamond mine in Canada, has put in place extensive controls through a combination of testing, screening, sanitising and social distancing, that have allowed

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09 July 2020

Rio Tinto supports COVID-19 isolation shelter in Yellowknife

Rio Tinto is partnering with the Yellowknife Women’s Society to support their COVID-19 isolation shelter with a C$150,000 contribution. As part of Rio Tinto’s worldwide community investment in COVID-19 relief initiatives, this funding will provide accommodation and food for individuals who are at high medical risk of serious illness or death if they contract the virus. It will also support the hir

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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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Protecting employees

We are proactively managing COVID-19 challenges through our dedicated business resilience teams and by embedding changes in the way we work and learning to co-exist with the virus. We have maintained strict protocols globally and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

During 2020, we have put a range of measures in place – in line with government guidance and directives, and best practice advice from leading medical experts and international health organisations – to keep employees, contractors and partners safe. These range from physical distancing to travel restrictions, roster changes and team splits, to flexible working arrangements, rapid screening and personal hygiene controls. Examples include:

  • Screening programmes: implementing temperature and other rapid screening tests of workforce at airports, in alignment with local guidance. We also implemented screening questionnaires and hotlines that provide employees with health assessments by medical advisors on fitness for work, including fatigue management. We also worked with local towns, governments and community agencies to build on the existing protocols for social distancing.
  • Social distancing protocols: reducing the number of people attending pre-start meetings; keeping at least two metres (six feet) apart; closing all bars, gyms and pools at mining camp sites to limit social interaction; and changing configurations in buses, light vehicles and planes to extend the distance between passengers. Site meeting rooms are also marked to indicate the maximum number of participants admissible.
  • 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.
  • 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; we have put medical teams in place with temporary clinics prepared.

Our office-based employees are beginning to return to offices in regions where this is permitted. In most cases, employees are returning to offices in alternate teams to reduce the risk of widespread transmission and ensure business continuity.

We are providing flexible work arrangements to support our employees and their families in areas where schools and day care centres are closed.

Western Australian operations

With the de-escalation of health restrictions in Western Australia, rosters in our Australian iron ore operations have returned to normal. We continue to conduct airport and site screening – including temperature checks and health questionnaires. 

Learn more about what we are doing in Western Australia to combat the spread and impacts of COVID-19 >

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. 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:

  • Pledging A$1.25 million over five years to the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Australia (Queensland Section) to improve emergency and remotely delivered health care services across the region
  • Upgrading a building and turning it into a dedicated treatment centre that can receive up to 108 patients, and treat 60 people – including up to 32 needing intensive care – in the Anosy region of Madagascar
  • Donating 25,000 masks and other equipment worth around C$100,000 to the local health authority and social services in Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean, in Quebec, Canada
  • Providing alternative housing support to a local shelter in Labrador, Canada, for use if women and children affected by COVID-19 need a secure refuge
  • Donating EUR 20,000 to the Red Cross in Belgrade and EUR 20,000 to the Red Cross in Loznica for essential food and hygiene items for the cities’ most vulnerable citizens
  • Partnering with the Natural History Museum in Utah to run a digital education hub pilot to improve access to technology for students
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:


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.

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.

And we have extended our employee mental health and support services to also help communities in Western Australia as part of our COVID-19 relief package. Through the programme, which runs for six months, members of our host communities, local suppliers, and category 2 and 3 contractors and their families will be offered private and confidential counselling support by our provider, BSS Employee Assistance.

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:


In the Northwest Territories, our Diavik diamond mine is partnering with the Yellowknife Women’s Society to support its COVID-19 isolation shelter with a C$150,000 contribution. Our support lets the shelter provide housing and food for vulnerable men and women who would be at special risk if they contract COVID-19. We are also contributing C$60,000 to five Indigenous communities for food and other needs.

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. And in Montreal, we donated C$50,000 to the Table de quartier de Montréal-Nord, whose work brings together nearly 100 local community organisations, to help provide families experiencing hardship with food security and the equipment their children need to stay connected to school.

BC Works, our aluminium operation in British Columbia, has donated C$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.

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. 


In February, 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.


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.

South Africa

At Richards Bay Minerals, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, we have donated more than R5.5 million to provide critical support for local communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including food and water supplies, as well as PPE and essential equipment for frontline health workers and clinics.