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The Western Australian mining industry has welcomed the opening of the state’s borders as an opportunity to relieve the sector’s skills shortage.

Western Australia officially opened its borders with upgraded public health and social measures introduced state-wide from 12.01am Thursday, March 3.

These Level 2 measures are expected to be in place for about four weeks, with a review to be undertaken at the end of the month.

WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) chief executive Paul Everingham said certainty around state and international borders will be welcomed by the many WA mining and resources sector workers who either come from the eastern states or overseas, or who have friends and loved ones interstate or abroad.

“Equally, these changes to the border allow CME member companies access to wider labour pools and markets, which should help relieve some skills pressures as WA looks to capitalise on the $127 billion of mining and resources projects currently in the State’s development pipeline,” he said.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics National Accounts data shows WA has enjoyed the strongest economic performance in the nation throughout COVID-19 – with State Final Demand (SFD) in 2021 up 7.2 per cent since 2019, ahead of every other State and Territory.

Premier Mark McGowan said these results confirm Western Australia’s approach has delivered the best outcomes for local jobs, business and the economy throughout the pandemic.

“Western Australia has only spent 12 days in lockdown since the height of the pandemic, keeping businesses open and largely restriction-free while much of the country and the world were closed,” he said.

“Western Australia’s State Final Demand growing by 7.2 per cent over the past two years is a remarkable achievement – something nobody would have thought possible throughout a global pandemic.”

Everingham said the WA mining and resources sector has continued to operate safety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and, in turn, make record contributions to government revenue and job creation.

“With the continued support of government, the sector is approaching these changing border conditions with a focus that prioritises health and safety above all else. This applies to both the sector’s workforce and the communities in which we operate,” he said.

“The sector’s workforce is well prepared for the change with a suite of robust control measures available to be scaled accordingly and a fully vaccinated workforce across our remote operations.

“Recent cases reported on resources operations have demonstrated the effectiveness of these control measures not only in identifying cases early through comprehensive screening but in the subsequent rapid response to limit further spread and support the health of our workforce.”

In early February, Everingham announced he would step down from his role at the CME after four years at the helm.

“I’ve loved working with the staff, the member companies and our stakeholders including government, it’s been a wonderful experience,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing our sector thrive under pressure and come together when they’ve needed to put the good of the community, the state and the country first. That’s all been wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for quids.”