Next steps for proposed Antarctic aerodrome decided

The Australian Antarctic Division has announced its procurement approach for an Antarctic aerodrome near Davis station, should it be approved to proceed.

In an industry notice published on AusTender today, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) advised the market of its intention to adopt a ‘Competitive Alliance’ delivery model for the proposed Davis aerodrome and its associated infrastructure.

The AAD plans to call for Expressions of Interest later this year, with two shortlisted tenderers then invited to submit a detailed proposal including a target cost.

The AAD’s Director and Project Proponent, Kim Ellis, said the proposal remains subject to environmental and other Government approvals.

“If it goes ahead, this will be the most significant infrastructure project in Antarctica to date, and it is unprecedented in scale and complexity,” Mr Ellis said.

“The AAD sought expert advice on the most appropriate procurement model to ensure both industry engagement and value for money for the Government.

“A Competitive Alliance model was deemed the most suitable because it fosters a collaborative and innovative approach with the delivery partner, with an open book policy and decisions made on a ‘Best for Project’ basis.”

If the project is approved to proceed, the successful partner will work with the AAD to deliver:

  • the modernisation of Davis research station and enabling infrastructure in the local area;
  • the proposed Davis aerodrome (including the 2700m runway and terminal facilities); and
  • logistics (including shipping and management of equipment, materials and crew).

Mr Ellis said the early engagement of a delivery partner will increase opportunities for innovation, which may reduce costs and time and further minimise or mitigate environmental impacts.

A contract will not be signed with the successful tenderer until the project completes its environmental assessment and is approved to proceed.

The ability to access the continent year-round would represent a significant capability boost that would enhance Australia’s leadership, long-term interests and scientific activities in the region.

“It will transform our ability to conduct science in East Antarctica,” Mr Ellis said.

The AAD is preparing a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE) for consideration under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) and Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act (1980).

The CEE will be released for public comment in Australia and internationally and also presented to the Antarctic Treaty nations in 2021.

The AAD is planning an advance industry briefing to be delivered in July or August. All interested industry participants are encouraged to register for AusTender at (www.tenders.gov.au/) and to monitor AusTender regularly.

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Aerial view of Davis research station
The AAD will adopt a ‘Competitive Alliance’ delivery model should the proposal for an aerodrome near Davis research station be approved to proceed. (Photo: David Barringhaus)

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