World's largest radio telescope brings jobs to WA

Opportunities have now opened for local businesses to get involved in construction of the world’s largest radio telescope project – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – in WA’s Mid-West region.

Expressions of interest are being sought for three new construction contracts at the SKA site, including high-specification buildings, the main site access road and emergency airstrip, and for road, fibre and power access between antenna stations.

Importantly, Mid West businesses and the Wajarri Yamaji traditional landowners have not been overlooked, with some of the contracts containing 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, 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 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.”

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.

To ensure Mid West and Wajarri Yamaji-owned business 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% 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,” Minister Porter said.

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. 

To be eligible for consideration by the SKAO, businesses must first complete the survey on the Procurement Portal accessed through https://www.skatelescope.org/procurement  

Further information on the SKA 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.