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Hundreds of workers from COVID-ravaged mine in central Australia can now start flying home

Hundreds of workers from a COVID-19 ravaged mine in central Australia will start flying home after testing negative for the virus.

More than 700 workers were forced to isolate at Newmont’s Granites Mine, about 540 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs, after a worker tested positive on 26 June.

They’ve spent most of that time in their rooms with many taking to social media to complain about conditions, including food shortages.

The cohort has now completed 14 days of Northern Territory police-supervised quarantine at the Tanami Desert site and returned negative COVID test results.

They’ll start flying to their homes around the country on Saturday, with Chief Minister Michael Gunner saying the Delta variant outbreak has been controlled.

It started when a young Victorian worker travelled to the mine after being exposed to the virus in a Brisbane quarantine hotel on 18 June.

Twenty people linked to the mine contracted the virus as authorities scrambled to track about 800 other workers who had flown to their homes around Australia.

Newmont Australia vice-president Alex Bates said the company’s first concern had been for the welfare of its employees and their families.

“I would like to thank our employees and business partners for their patience and commitment during quarantine, which has been a difficult experience,” he said in a statement released Saturday.

“I offer my wholehearted apologies. I understand their frustrations,” Mr Bates said during the 14-day quarantine period.

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