During the summer of 2019 an intense fire ripped through the Snowy Mountains National Park in southern NSW, located about 4 hours’ drive south of Sydney, Australia. At that time, the Snowy 2.0 Project was only just starting to ramp up however, the devastation of the fire meant that virtually all of the above ground work stopped until the area was safe for personnel to re-enter. Throughout 2020 the project found itself restricted again by COVID19 however, being in an isolated area enabled it to operate throughout the pandemic. With 2021 came a significant increase in site operations and now the first tunnel boring machine is nearing completion and the second and third are on their way to site.
The Project is located in a gully called Lobs Hole within the Snow Mountains National Park. The roads were initially pioneered for early-day gold mining or grazing purposes and then utilized 70 years ago for access on the original Hydro-Electric Project during the 1950’s. Very minor road upgrades were permitted in the National Park, so the large loads were only transportable to site using modern Self Propelled Modular Trailers with individual steering axles and hydraulic suspension.
The heaviest load taken into site to date was the 175 tonne and 7meter wide Main Drive. There was no room for error when steering the 20meter long, 12 axle SPMT around the narrow Ravine Road corners. At some points, the road grade was a steep 17.5% and 24 chains secured the load from slipping off the trailer. A special load beam was placed beneath the Main Drive to lift and clear obstacles along the numerous steep roadside embankments on the 16km journey along Ravine Road.
Upon the SPMT reaching the site at the base of Ravine Road, the TBM#1 Main Drive was offloaded and now awaits the arrival of all the other components. Once it is completely assembled, it will reach a length of 205 meters. TBM#2 was delivered during 2020 and will soon start tunneling. It is currently in its cradle with final assembly and testing to be conducted before operations begin. Overall, the construction phase of the Snowy 2.0 Hydro-Electric Project is truly a massive endeavor that will span at least 5 years and involve contributors from around the world.