Miners turn to homemade hand sanitiser

One key effort miners are making to protect their workers is to give them plenty of hand sanitiser as part of their hygiene. However, anyone who has been to a supermarket or pharmacy lately will see that hand sanitiser is a hard thing to procure, so some homemade solutions are coming to the fore
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BHP turned to a pharmacy in Newman, Western Australia to provide some of its hand sanitiser needs

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Researchers at the Rio Tinto Iron & Titanium Technology Centre in Quebec, Canada are producing hand sanitiser to help with the COVID-19 response.

The RTIT Technology Centre normally works on improving titanium dioxide processing and developing specialised metals and powders for a broad range of uses.

However, in response to a local shortage, chemists at the centre developed a formula based on World Health Organisation specifications to produce a hand sanitiser. So far, they have produced about 300 litres of gel, which is being used at the Sorel-Tracy operation in Canada.

The recipe will soon be used at Rio Tinto's Bell Bay aluminium smelter in Tasmania, Australia. While the company is going to start developing its own hand sanitiser at Bell Bay, it is currently relying on a local supplier for its Pilbara operations' needs.

BHP turned to the Boulevard Pharmacy in Newman, West Australia to help keep the hands of some of its Pilbara operators clean.

Liz Hyde, owner of the Boulevard Pharmacy, said she was contacted by BHP through its Local Buying Program for an urgent supply of hand sanitiser. She said her team spent a day mixing ingredients to make hand sanitiser for BHP's Newman Operations.

"We made 120 litres in one day," Hyde said. "It's not something we normally do, but these are strange times. Now we are in the process of sourcing another 2,000 litres of hand sanitiser from our suppliers to be dispatched to BHP and the town over the next few months."

According to BHP, the hand sanitiser is not just going to its operations.

Some is being sent to Newman Police, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Services, EPIS aged care, the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation and both of Newman's childcare centres.

Elizabeth Gaines, CEO of Fortescue Metals Group, said the company was dependent on third parties for its hand sanitiser needs. "We have worked with our suppliers to ensure a reliable reserve of hand sanitiser for our business which, together with regular and thorough handwashing is an important measure in containing the spread of COVID-19," she said.