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Tech West Australia

World’s largest telescope to involve local WA businesses

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Local businesses within WA’s Mid-West region can now get involved with the construction of the world’s largest radio telescope project – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). 

The Government is currently seeking expressions of interest for three new construction contracts at the SKA site. These construction contracts will include high-specification buildings, the main site access road and emergency airstrip, and for road, fibre and power access between antenna stations. 

Mid West businesses and the Wajarri Yamaji traditional landowners have not been overlooked in this project as some of the contracts contain specific local content requirements to ensure their participation.   

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said the construction contracts represented an exciting new phase in the development of the international project. 

“This project has been more than a decade in the making and is now moving from concept to reality thanks to a $387 million commitment by the Morrison Government, which is enabling construction work to get underway,” Minister Porter said. 

“That investment opens up incredible opportunities for a range of industries and will deliver a much-needed boost to the local economy, bringing with hundreds of job opportunities for Australian workers, including in the advanced manufacturing sector.” 

The Government’s economic modelling indicates that the project will attract an estimated $1.8 billion in foreign income as a result of its first 30 years of operations. 

To ensure Mid West and Wajarri Yamaji-owned businesses can participate in the construction of the telescope, the main access road and emergency airstrip opportunity has been split off a larger work package. This package will be made available this week specifically for businesses based in the region.  

For other larger infrastructure packages, a requirement of at least 30% of the value of the contracts will be delivered by Mid-West businesses. This excludes major materials and equipment.

“There are also further incentives for local and Wajarri Yamaji business involvement in the infrastructure contracts, with preferential assessment criteria for Mid West and Wajarri Yamaji participation,” Minister Porter said. 

Australia is a co-host member of the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO), a UK-based intergovernmental organisation responsible for all procurement for the construction and operation of the SKA telescope project. 

SKA market surveys are a crucial ‘expression of interest’ step for businesses that want to bid for SKA work. Suppliers that register interest will be sent a pre-qualification questionnaire and shortlisted companies will be invited to tender for the work packages. 

The Infra 1 (Spatial) and Infra 3 (Buildings) Market Surveys are now open and will close on Tuesday 10 August 2021. The Infra 7 (Main Road and Emergency Air Strip) Market Survey will be made available for Mid-West businesses this week. 

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