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EOS and RICO demonstrate long range autonomous control

The Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation & Coordination Office (RICO) of the Australian Army and defence contractor Electro Optic Systems have extended the capabilities of the M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier (pictured) into long range autonomous weapons firing. The partners demonstrated the long-range firing capabilities of EOS’ R400 remote weapon system. They operated the RWS at Puckapunyal Military Area from Canberra, a distance of 550km apart, successfully engaging targets at 300 and 600 metres. Australian Defence Force students at Puckapunyal then took part in a life-fire counter-drone exercise, successfully hitting drone targets at distances up to 500 metres. The achievements of this exercise represent a significant leap forward in military technology, offering enhanced precision, safety, and operational versatility, according to a statement.

BlueScope Steel kits out its first Huntsman howitzer

BlueScope Distribution have announced that it has completed steel processing and kitting of the first LAND 8116 Phase 1 Huntsman AS9 Self Propelled Howitzer. The steel was dispatched early last month using 100 percent Australian steel and Australian supply chain partners. Once the armoured vehicle hulls and turrets are fully fabricated, they will be assembled at the new Hanwha Defence Australia facility in Geelong, Victoria due to open later this year.

Grafton timber factory re-opens

Big River Group’s Grafton timber factory has officially opened following a major upgrade that it says will will boost local supply of high-quality timber products to the NSW construction industry. A statement from the NSW government on Wednesday notes the $10 million in joint funding between state and federal governments to support the project under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, following the 2019/2020 bushfires. According to the statement, the factory is now able to supply 8,000 cubic metres of timber products annually, take on 20 new employees, and upskill the entire workforce on new equipment, “such as lathes, chippers, a dryer and machinery for cutting and finishing timber products.” Big River Group CEO John Lorente thanked the state and federal governments, adding: “We understand just how important the factory is to our workforce and the Grafton community and will remain future-focused on continuing to create opportunities to diversify with new value-added niche products and remain sustainable into the future.”

WA steel mill making progress, says GSWA

Green Steel of WA has said it is forging ahead with its project to construct a green steel recycling mill, submitting a works approval application this week. In a statement on Wednesday, GSWA said it had now completed the last primary project approval submission, ahead of a final investment decision on the project this calendar year and operations planned for 2026. The Collie mill project is budgeted at an estimated $500 million, and would be both “Australia’s first green steel mill but also the country’s first entirely new steel mill in over three decades,” according to GSWA. Planned capacity is 450,000 tonnes of green steel annually.

NSW government allocates $5 million for silicosis

The NSW Government has committed $5 million in funding for silicosis research and a patient support program for individuals and their families navigating the health risks associated with exposure to silica dust, it announced on Thursday. The news follows the state’s manufactured stone ban, and represents an election commitment “to support research which centres firmly on silica dust-related disease diagnosis, treatment and care.” The grant funding will be administered collaboratively by icare and the Dust Diseases Board, will provide a total of $5 million over three years to the Asbestos and Dust Diseases Research Institute (ADDRI). “Last year we led the country in calling for a ban on manufactured stone, to protect the lives of workers so that no one else is exposed to this substance,” said WHS minister Sophie Cotsis. “Even after the ban, anyone who has ever worked with engineered stone remains at risk of developing silicosis. Today’s funding announcement delivers on our election promise to invest in research and care programs for NSW workers living with silicosis.”

ACCC approves revised Cochlear, Oticon Medical deal

Regulator the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has said it will not oppose Cochlear’s proposed acquisition of the cochlear implants business of Oticon Medical A/S from its parent company, Demant A/S. Cochlear notified the ACCC in in 2022 that it proposed to acquire Oticon Medical’s bone conduction solutions business and cochlear implants business. The ACCC had significant competition concerns in relation to Cochlear’s proposed acquisition of Oticon Medical’s bone conduction solutions business. However, said ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway on Thursday, “The transaction has now been changed to remove the bone conduction solutions business, which addresses the significant concerns the ACCC had in relation to bone conduction solutions”.

Picture: Electro Optic Systems

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