Mining giants BHP have announced a $50 million fund to support regional Australian communities facing the significant challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vital Resources Fund is intended to support local and regional health networks, funding critical infrastructure, services and workforces, as well as mental health initiatives and essential community services.
The announcement follows the company's commitment to deliver $100 million into small, local and Indigenous businesses by accelerating payments and reducing payment terms to seven days.
BHP CEO Mike Henry said said extra social distancing measures in the workplace and a drive to recruit an extra 1500 people on six month contracts would enable it to continue working sustainably through the coming months of pandemic.
"With those communities facing significant challenges, we are stepping up in establishing the Vital Resources Fund, which will provide support in a range of areas such as health services and resilience building during this difficult time," he said.
"We know COVID-19 will require a significant collective response from governments, businesses, communities and individuals across Australia. We are determined to play our part as we work through this challenge together."
Spending will be focused on the regions surrounding BHP's Australian operations, including Roxby Downs and the Upper Spencer Gulf.
BHP operates Olympic Dam near Roxby Downs, one of the world's most significant deposits of copper, gold, silver and uranium.
Funds will also be distributed to the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland, the Hunter Valley in NSW and the Pilbara and Goldfields regions in Western Australia.