Dan Janney, Newmont’s North American vice president, was pink-slipped Wednesday after a row over the mining company’s policy backing widespread vaccination, according to a report by The Australian.
“Dan has advised that he will not support or promote the company’s position with respect to Covid-19 vaccination, and therefore he is no longer working for the company,” Newmont chief operating officer Rob Atkinson said in an internal memo. “We believe each of us has a responsibility to get vaccinated to protect our own health, as well as the health of those around us. We strongly encourage you to become vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to you, and we continue to look for opportunities to support government and community vaccination efforts close to our operations.”
Newmont operates the Tanami mine in the Northern Territory – which had a COVID scare last month – and the Boddington operation in Western Australia, The Australian reported. Newmont used to own half of Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit before selling its stake to Northern Star Resources.
Mark Rodgers, a Perth-based Newmont executive, was named as Janney’s replacement.
The firing highlights a trend among large businesses to take a tougher stance on vaccines due to the highly infectious Delta variant . Fruit and vegetable processor SPC recently became the first Australian company outside of the healthcare sector to mandate COVID-19 vaccines not only for its staff, but for anyone who enters its cannery, The Australian reported.
The pandemic has also thrown a spanner in the works at Fortescue Metals Group, which suspended some operations at its Cloudbreak iron ore mine in Western Australia after a person visiting the operation tested positive for COVID-19.
Newmont has also dealt with an Australian COVID scare. Last month, more than 700 workers were locked down in their dongers in the Tanami Desert after a worker tested positive for the virus, The Australian reported. The Tanami closure was the first instance since the pandemic began of a major Australian mine being shuttered due to an outbreak.
Earlier this year, Newmont set up the Newmont Global Community Support Fund to aid host communities, governments and employees in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said it spent US$20 million in the June quarter on new health and safety procedures, increased transportation and community fund contributions.
Newmont told its staff Wednesday that it was committed to its strict COVID policy, The Australian reported.
“Since the start of the pandemic, every decision we have made has been guided by our values and we have prioritised the health and wellbeing of our workforce and communities above all else,” the company said. “Global public health experts support widespread vaccination as the most important tool available to us to stop the spread of Covid-19.”