BHP and Mineral Resources have become the latest big employers to make COVID vaccinations a condition of entry at all of their Australian workplaces, joining mining giant Rio Tinto.
The BHP policy, announced this morning, will take effect no later than 31 January 2022.
It will affect about 45,000 employees and contractors across Australia, along with all visitors to its mine sites, offices and other facilities.
This includes about 20,844 employees and contractors in Western Australia.
BHP’s decision comes two days after the WA government mandated COVID vaccinations for all workers in the resources sector – this extends to all employees, contractors and visitors to mine sites, oil and gas facilities and associated infrastructure.
"Given the nature of our business – and the way we work across multiple remote site locations, regional hubs and metropolitan locations – all employees and visitors will need to follow the government mandate," he said.
"This means you must have had your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by 1 December 2021 to be able to enter any MRL workplace and you must be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022."
Mr Ellison noted that resource companies must have records, therefore staff need to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination,
Rio Tinto said earlier this week that it would extend the government mandate to all of its city-based office workers.
Government health directives and private company decisions mean an estimated one-third of all WA workers will need to be vaccinated.
“In line with government guidance, we recognise the path forward is through widespread vaccination in Australia and we are looking at a range of practical ways to support that while protecting communities and workforces,” Mr Basto said.
“We have undertaken a thorough assessment and believe that this is the right path forward to protect the health of our people, their families and the communities where we operate – including remote Indigenous communities – while continuing to safely run our operations.”
"We know this will raise questions for some, and we will work closely with our workforce as we go through the process of implementing these controls at our workplaces.”
BHP said it continued to support regional vaccination programs in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
Mr Ellison said that whenever WA opens its borders to the rest of Australia, COVID-19 will come into the state.
"As a result, I am asking everyone to again come together to protect our MRL family and follow the health advice and get vaccinated," he said in the staff update.
"This is the only way we can keep everyone safe and in jobs."
Other big employers in the resources sector, including Chevron, Fortescue Metals Group, Woodside Petroeum and Alcoa, have told Business News this week they were encouraging all staff to get vaccinated but had not applied a requirement.
Many have introduced incentive programs to encourage vaccinations.
Fully vaccinated Chevron employees can nominate one of three charities – Royal Flying Doctor Service, Zonta House Refuge Association or Foodbank WA – to receive a $100 donation from the company.
Over the last three weeks, this initiative has raised over $90,000.
Chevron added it was continuing to work through the process with State and Commonwealth government entities and its on-site health provider to enable vaccination to occur on its remote sites and adjacent communities
The union movement has opposed mandatory vaccinations.
“Decisions regarding vaccinations should be between the individual and medical professionals, not bosses," it said today.
“The best way to increase vaccination rates in our community is through education, not mandates."
The AMWU said it was communicating with other mining sector unions and seeking legal advice to work through BHP’s decision.