First Snowy Hydro 2 TBM commissioned

30 March 2021

A milestone has been reached on Australia’s Snowy 2 scheme with the commissioning of the first TBM that is now ready to start mining on the country’s biggest hydropower project.

Snowy Hydro Ltd named the TBM ‘Lady Eileen Hudson’ in honour of the grandmother of current energy minister Angus Taylor and a former ambassador of the original Snowy Hydro scheme of 1954. The naming ceremony took place at Lobs Hole where the TBM was inspected by officials from Snowy Hydro, Webuild and its partners in the Future Generation joint-venture.

TBM assembly has gradually been taking place over the past six months, during which parts for the 11m-diameter machine have been arriving to site by road from Port Kembla, a distance of around 450km. The machine is now ready to start excavating the 2.6km main access tunnel to the pumped storage scheme’s power station cavern. It is expected to progress around 16m/day, mining at up to 800m below ground. Once it completes this drive, it will be disassembled, then reassembled to excavate the tailrace tunnel from the Talbingo portal.

Another of the three TBMs that will work on the project is said by Webuild to be one of the first in the world to be able to excavate on a range of variable slopes and on very steep angles – up to 9% (5°) downhill and 47% (25°) uphill.

The Snowy 2 project will expand significantly Australia’s pumped-hydro electricity generation and involves linking two existing dams, Tantangara and Talbingo, through 27km of tunnels and building a new underground power station. The scheme will see a combined total of 40km of tunnels excavated and is on target for a 2026 completion.