ANSTO Lucas Heights facility to get an upgrade

By Melissa Coade

October 1, 2021

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor. Source: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has welcomed a $30 million federal commitment to build a new nuclear medicines manufacturing facility at Lucas Heights in Sydney.

The money will go towards replacing the current ANSTO Lucas Heights facility, which is nearing the end of its life. The existing facility currently manufactures 80% of nuclear medicine isotopes that are used to fight diseases like cancer in Australia. 

The project was announced in a joint statement on Thursday from acting minister for industry, science and technology Angus Taylor, health minister Greg Hunt and finance minister Senator Simon Birmingham. 

Taylor said the investment was being made to safeguard Australia’s sovereign capability to produce vital nuclear medicines. 

“Nuclear medicine is an essential part of an advanced healthcare system and helps save lives – that’s why we’re acting to secure a reliable nuclear medicine supply for future generations,” Taylor said.

“It will also support radiopharmaceutical research and development and contribute to research translation and medical industry collaboration, to improve health care in Australia.”

It is estimated that most Australians will benefit from the specially manufactured medicines at least once in their lifetime, with 10,000-12,000 potential doses produced by ANSTO every week. 

Minister Hunt said that the medicines produced by ANSTO supported early, precise diagnosis of a range of cancers, as well as other health conditions such as cardiac disease and musculoskeletal injuries.

“Early diagnosis saves lives and reduces longer-term demand on the health system,” Hunt said. 

“Importantly, there is also an increasing number of nuclear medicines with direct therapeutic applications – treating for example, a number of cancers.” 

According to Birmingham, the ‘world-leading project’ would have opportunities for private sector involvement. He said the initial $30 million federal commitment laid the foundations for PPP collaboration. 

“There is huge potential for partnerships in this new state-of-the-art facility which will save Australian lives, support thousands of jobs and further enhance our sovereign capability in this important area of medicine,” Birmingham said. 

The federal government estimates that the new facility will support 1,000 highly skilled jobs across Australia.


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