Three local businesses can now get involved in constructing the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), in Western Australia’s mid-west region.
The three new construction contracts on offer at the SKA site include high-specification buildings, the main site access road and emergency airstrip, and for road, fibre and power access between antenna stations.
Some of the contracts also contain specific local content requirements, ensuring the Wajarri Yamaji traditional landowners are involved in the construction.
These contract opportunities represent an exciting new phase in the international project, which will give astronomers unprecedented insights into our universe and its origins.
“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 for Industry, Science and Technology Christian 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 it hundreds of job opportunities for Australian workers, including in the advanced manufacturing sector.
“Additionally, our economic modelling indicates the project will attract an estimated $1.8 billion in foreign income flows into Australia as a result of the SKA’s first 30 years of operations,” he 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 bidding 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.
To ensure mid-west and Wajarri Yamaji-owned businesses can participate, the main access road and emergency airstrip opportunity has been split off a larger work package and will be made available this week, specifically for businesses based in the region.
For other larger infrastructure packages, there is a requirement that at least 30 per cent of the value of the contracts, excluding major materials and equipment, will be delivered by mid-west businesses.
“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,” Porter said.
The Infra 1 (Spatial) and Infra 3 (Buildings) Market Surveys are now open and will close on Tuesday 10 August. The Infra 7 (Main Road and Emergency Air Strip) Market Survey will be made available for mid-west businesses this week.
To be eligible for consideration by the SKAO, businesses must complete the survey on the Procurement Portal accessed through https://www.skatelescope.org/procurement
Further information on the SKA project is available at www.ska.gov.au.
Businesses can join the Australasian Square Kilometre Array Industry Cluster (ASKAIC) at industry.gov.au/askaic, to receive regular project updates and engage with other businesses and stakeholders interested in the SKA.