Rio Tinto is partnering with the Western Australian Government to launch a COVID-19 vaccination blitz targeting communities in the Pilbara and the fly-in fly-out workforce. Vaccination hubs will be established in the Pilbara and at a trial clinic at the Perth Airport to make vaccinations more accessible.

Starting with the town of Tom Price, planning is under way for hubs at several locations in the Pilbara, with vaccines available to members of the local community, Indigenous communities, Rio Tinto employees, contractors and their families. Rio Tinto is working with the department of health and the shire of Ashburton and is close to finalizing a location for the proposed Tom Price hub. The facility could potentially offer vaccines to the entire adult population of Tom Price and surrounding communities.

Rio Tinto’s COVID-19 screening facilities at Perth Airport (T2 and T3) will also be modified to include “pop-up” vaccination hubs to target workers returning to Perth. The hubs will initially be available to Rio Tinto’s FIFO workforce, who regularly travel to and from the Pilbara, with the option to expand the vaccination service to the wider FIFO community.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott said the company stood ready to support the Western Australia Government’s vaccination rollout in any way it can.

“We are pleased to work in partnership with the Western Australia Government on this industry-first vaccination blitz, which we expect will help boost vaccination rates in the Pilbara,” Trott said. “This is an important development in our state’s effort to combat COVID-19. We know vaccinations are our best way out of this pandemic and we are very happy to convert our existing screening facilities, which have helped keep COVID-19 out of our operations and vulnerable communities for almost 18 months, to include vaccination hubs.”

The initial vaccination blitz is expected to commence in September, subject to availability of vaccines. Rio Tinto said it will work with the government to finalize details in the coming weeks.