Minderoo Foundation today announced DLR Building, a locally owned and operated Exmouth company, as the head contractor to undertake upgrades and the refurbishment of the research space at the Ningaloo Centre.
Once operational, the Minderoo Foundation Exmouth Research Laboratory (MERL) will attract the world’s best marine researchers and scientists to Exmouth to study and improve ocean health and resilience.
The research hub will comprise controlled aquaria space, wet and dry labs, and a molecular lab. The office space will accommodate up to 12 people, with at least three full-time staff employed. There will be post-construction maintenance contract opportunities for local businesses.
CEO of Minderoo Foundation’s Flourishing Oceans initiative, Tony Worby, said the MERL was already making waves in the scientific community.
“We already have our major Western Australian universities and the broader marine science community keen to utilise the facility in the first 12 months, undertaking an array of investigatory projects that will benefit the Ningaloo and Exmouth Gulf region and communities by studying and solving intractable threats to ocean health,” Dr Worby said.
Shire of Exmouth President Matthew Niikkula said the awarding of the building contract was another important milestone for the project.
“Not only will the construction stimulate local employment – which has taken a hit due to COVID-19 – but, once complete, the MERL will bring year-round economic stimulus to town in the form of visiting academics and researchers,” Mr Niikkula said.
“This is the signature project and economic diversification the Shire of Exmouth has been working hard to attract for decades. It’s the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for our town and region.”
DLR Building Director Peter Dellar said the awarding of the contract to a local business ensured the lion’s share of jobs will remain in Exmouth.
“We’ve been here for 30 years so it is fantastic that Minderoo Foundation was eager to work with a trusted local builder, employing local tradespeople,” Mr Dellar said.
Works will start this month and finish in the first half of 2021.