Duston to house a new explosives facility

DEFENDTEX will receive $1.5 million in federal funding to build a manufacturing and testing facility for propellants and explosives at Dutson.

The weapons research and development company has provisional approval from Defence to use the former bombing range, and is awaiting finalisation of the formal agreement as Defence negotiates a licence agreement.

While the site ceased to be a bombing range in early 2000, it does contain a 300 metre small-arms firing range, regularly used by students from RAAF Base, East Sale’s Officer Training School.

The site will become the base for the company’s resonance acoustic mixing facility to support the development of rocket motors, and is expected to create 25 construction jobs and 60 continuing positions.

As a condition of its agreement with Defence, anything placed on the Commonwealth land must be removable, limiting DefendTex to using relocatable buildings and some hard standing.

DefendTex’s chief executive officer Travis Reddy said the company had developed some novel methods of making propellent.

“We will be making small to progressively larger rocket motors to support of product development,” he said.

“The new technology uses sound to mix the components so it occurs much faster, more effectively and is a lot safer.”

Mr Reddy said the 60 ongoing jobs will become available during the later stage of the project, when the company moved from design and testing to full production.

“The facility will primarily employ chemical and mechanical engineers,” he said.

“We will also fill process engineering and project management roles.”

Mr Reddy predicted work onsite should begin within three months, with the facility reaching initial operating capacity within a year.

“It will then take another year or so to complete our research and development before we begin to ramp up to production quantities,” he said.

Defence will continue its use of the area for ground-based training, and will oversee DefendTex activity at Dutson, including an onsite presence when needed.