Australian engineering

Driving local steel and jobs in SA

By | Diversity and inclusion | No Comments

InfraBuild Construction Solutions has worked with industry partners to prioritise the use of Australian steel and the creation of local jobs for South Australia’s Northern Connector Project.

The companies involved in Adelaide’s Northern Connector Project have followed through on their commitment to procure Australian-made steel and prioritise local workforce participation.

Unblocking congestion across Adelaide

South Australia’s $885 million Northern Connector is a 15.5km stretch of six-lane motorway that makes up a critical part of Adelaide’s ambitious 78km North-South Corridor public works program. The program has been designed to streamline north and southbound traffic, including freight vehicles, between Gawler in the city’s north and Old Noarlunga in the south.

As well as catering for expected increases in traffic, the new motorway will significantly improve freight access to the Port of Adelaide and the industrial areas of Adelaide’s north and northwest, and reduce travel times for commuters travelling to and from Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

Local content, local jobs

InfraBuild Construction Solutions (formerly LIBERTY OneSteel Reinforcing) supplied a significant tonnage of reinforcing steel products to the project, the bulk of which will be used to construct bridges and culverts, and maximised opportunities for local industry.

“The company has worked closely with South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI), head contractor Lendlease and the project suppliers to use locally sourced raw materials, labour and capital as much as possible,” InfraBuild Construction Solutions’ Tom Bishop said.

As many as 480 full-time equivalent jobs per year have been created during construction of the project. To date, more than 50 per cent of those jobs have been filled by northern suburbs residents and at least 90 per cent of on-site labour hours have been undertaken by South Australian workers.

Importantly, many workers employed on the project are people who faced barriers to employment, including workers displaced from South Australia’s automotive industry.

Delivering for South Australia’s economy

Collaboration among the major parties on the project has helped achieve economic benefits for South Australia. Local girder manufacturer Bianco Precast, for example, traditionally sources its Low Relaxation (LR) prestressing strand from offshore. However, Lendlease brokered an arrangement between InfraBuild Construction Solutions and Bianco to procure South Australian-made billet, which was then made into LR strand in Newcastle, New South Wales. The LR strand supplied by InfraBuild Construction Solutions is fully traceable, complies with Australian Standards and comes with ACRS certification.

The DPTI and the Office of the Industry Advocate (OIA) supported the development of this deal and a ‘best-for-project’ team approach produced what was an excellent result for South Australia.

The project is due to be completed in late 2019.

Fostering diversity and inclusion will be explored in detail at the upcoming World Engineers Convention 20-22 November in Melbourne. To learn more and to register, click here.

Budj Bim named to UNESCO World Heritage List

Budj Bim, a 6000-year-old Aboriginal engineering site, earns World Heritage status

By | Engineering for humanity | 4 Comments

One of the finest examples of ancient aquaculture and hydraulic engineering is right in Australia’s backyard. 

After a decades-long campaign by the Gunditjmara people, the Budj Bim eel traps have become the first Australian UNESCO World Heritage site to be listed exclusively for its Aboriginal cultural values.

The eel traps at Budj Bim comprise a vast network of weirs, dams and stone canals to manipulate water levels in various lake basins. Some of the channels are hundreds of metres long and were dug out of basalt lava flow. 

These structures force eels and other aquatic life into traps as water levels rise and fall. The canals also appear to have been used to create holding ponds to keep eels fresh until they were needed for food. Not only did this provide the region’s Gunditjmara people with a year-round food supply, it was also important for trade. 

The site also features the remnants of almost 300 stone houses — the only remaining permanent settlement built by an Indigenous community in Australia. 

Located in southwest Victoria, Budj Bim has been carbon dated to 6600 years old, meaning it predates more internationally well-known examples of ancient engineering like the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge. 

Aborginal activist Burnum Burnum said these traps are a prime example of how complex and varied the Aboriginal economy was at the time. 

“Gradually it is dawning on the outside world that life in the traditional Aboriginal way involved a great deal of knowledge and skill,” he wrote.  

Budj Bim is managed by the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. Gunditjmara Elder Denise Lovett called this a very special day for the community.

“This landscape, which we have cared for over thousands of years, is so important to Gunditjmara People,” she said. 

“The decision also recognises Budj Bim’s significance to all of humanity. We are so proud to now be able to share our achievements and story with the world.”

Gunditjmara Elder Denis Rose agreed, saying the ingenuity of their ancestors “shows in the aquaculture systems that are still operational to this day”. 

Traditional owners had been petitioning for the site to receive World Heritage Listing for some time, and hope to restore the site to what it would have looked like before European colonisation.

Tae Rak (also known as Lake Condah) was drained in the mid-20th century to create land for grazing, and so water can only be seen in the channels during very high floods. The site has also been damaged by vandals and livestock over the years. 

The Victorian Government has committed $5.7 million for preserving Aboriginal heritage in the state, and restoring Budj Bim is a large part of that. It’s expected that Budj Bim’s World Heritage listing will now turn the world’s attention to this millennia-old site. 

The announcement was made at a ceremony this past Saturday in Baku, Azerbaijan. In recommending Budj Bim for World Heritage listing, the International Council on Monuments and Sites acknowledged the Gunditjmara People’s involvement and leadership in nominating the site for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

Budj Bim has also been recognised by peak body Engineers Australia as one of the country’s top engineering achievements. Engineers Australia CEO Peter McIntyre said the UNESCO World Heritage listing is welcome news, and highlights the important contributions of Australia’s first engineers.

“Budj Bim is an extraordinary feat of engineering by the Gunditjmara people. For thousands of years, engineers have been using the tools available to them to improve lives and build communities,” he said.

Budj Bim is now Australia’s 20th property on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Other sites include Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House. 

You can take a guided walking tour of the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape as part of the upcoming World Engineers Conference, held 20-22 November in Melbourne.

Register here for the Great Ocean Road and Budji Bim Cultural Tour

Register here for WEC