Snowy 2.0 Lobs Hole

Tunnel Portal _CUF4077
The Lobs Hole Tunnel Portal which will access the Power Station Cavern.

By Steve Cuff

THE Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, visited the Snowy 2.0 project site at Lobs Hole in late June where he gave the official approval from Federal Government and signed off on the project.

The Prime Minister said it was an incredibly important day in our national history.

“It’s exciting to be here today to announce the green light, the thumbs-up green light for the Snowy 2.0 project to now move to its full implementation phase,” said Mr Morrison.

“This is a nation-building day that we have come here together to mark and to Paul Broad and all of his team and the many of them gathered around us here, engineers, those working on site, those making the coffee, those building the roads, the bridges, this is a very significant day and it’s a significant day for jobs, particularly in this part of Australia, regional jobs in what is an absolutely barnstorming project,” said Mr Morrison.

Paul Broad thanked the Prime Minister for the approval and said building the mighty 2.0 project was crucial and receiving the environmental approvals was fundamental.

“We’ve gone to extreme lengths with our partners at FutureGen to not damage some of the really high country, really sensitive parts.  I know there’s a construction site here in Lobs Hole but it was the most damaged part of the park.  An old mine used to be down the road here. There used to be a little town down the end there as well.  We will leave this site, it will be better than what it was before we come” said Mr Broad.

The Lobs Hole Snowy 2.0 Tunnel Portal for access down to the Power Station Cavern. ALL PHOTOS: Steve Cuff

Until now the Lobs Hole site had been officially off limits to all but Snowy Hydro and Future Generation JV contracted workers. But with Mr Morrison attending media were invited to the site.

There is extensive work in progress across the vast site, including the approximate 14km of dirt road down to Lobs Hole from the Link Road. Trucks, excavators, and work crew are busily preparing the road for the huge influx of trucks and machinery still to arrive on site. Once the concrete factory is operational in Cooma, there will be an ongoing fleet of trucks with daily deliveries plus delivery of big machinery.

Bridges have been built, there is an onsite concrete factory, accommodation quarters which will be expanded extensively as the project ramps up and there is constant traffic flow of trucks stretching for kilometres.

Onsite concrete plant.

There has been substantial excavation for the tunnel portal, the first task for the huge tunnel boring machine (TBM). The first of three tunnels will see a descending inclined tunnel down into the proposed cavern area of the underground power station.

Of workers who gathered for the announcement, Snowy Mountains Magazine spoke to several from Tumut, including Georgia and Matt from the Coffee Pedaler in Tumut who were delighted to talk with the Prime Minister after serving him coffee.

Matt Phillips, also from Tumut and working with the MAAS Group from Dubbo, said he operated the D9 bulldozer that had been pushing dirt at the portal entrance since April. Their company had 36 people on site and Matt’s machine operates 12 hours a day.

“We share it around and do 21 days on and nine days off and someone will get in it (bulldozer) when I go away.  Just in it all the time,” said Matt.

“It’s nice to see a job like this at home. I travelled around the country for the last 20 years doing work like this, but having it in your back doorstep, its magic.”

Tumut born and raised Tenesha Baker said she loves working at Lobs Hole. Like many of the workers, they are based in accommodation at Providence Portal. Her role includes different tasks from cleaning, to escorting trucks in and out, or even carting water.

“I have been up here since November last year, so going on eight to nine months or so. Yeah, I love it, its great fun. We drive in every day, it’s probably two hours we spend driving from Providence,” said Tenesha.

Tenesha Baker from Tumut.

Excavator operator Matt Phillips from Tumut.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks with Matt from the Coffee Pedaler in Tumut.

Upcoming Traffic Movements

The Snowy 2.0 project is expecting transport of components of the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) from Port Kembla through Cooma and to the construction site between mid-August and mid-September (subject to weather conditions). Movement of components of the second and third TBMs will continue through to near the end of the year.

The oversize, overmass (OSOM) loads will mostly be transported at night (including through Cooma), to reduce traffic impacts.

Planned rolling road closures in Bredbo and Cooma to facilitate the OSOM loads are expected to occur from 10pm to 5am, Monday to Thursday nights only (no road closures scheduled across weekends).

For safety reasons, the largest loads will be transported from the Snowy Mountains Highway south of Cooma to Lobs Hole during the daytime and this will involve intermittent, rolling road closures.

Transport for NSW and the Snowy 2.0 principal contractor Future Generation JV will coordinate communications for these truck movements and road closures once the schedule has been locked in.

Fast facts: The largest load from the first Snowy 2.0 TBM is the main drive (174 tonnes, 6.66m wide, 8.03m long, 2.85m high). Another of the largest loads is the cutterhead centre block, (123t, 5.8m wide, 6.7m long, 2.42m high). The widest cargo at 7.01m is the segment erector (52 tonnes, 6.85m long, 3.6m long).

Information about the movements will be available on the website, and the LiveTraffic app – this information will be subject to change at short notice.

A selection of images below from the Lobs Hole visit in June. Since then a large transformer has been delivered to site, and the first Tunnel Boring Machine is due to arrive soon.

The Tunnel Portal.

Future Generation Joint Venture Project Director, Antonio Betti and crew at the Tunnel Portal.

A small excavator at the Tunnel Portal.

Truck movements leaving the Tunnel Portal area.

On the road down to Lobs Hole, with the Tunnel Portal area far right below.

The main road at Lobs Hole, Talbingo Dam would be to the very far left direction.

Roadworks continue on the main access road down to Lobs Hole.

The main road at Lobs Hole. In the far background would be the access road down to the site.

A convoy takes the media down to Lobs Hole.

Trucks and work crew are prominent on the access road down to the site.

Future Generation Joint Venture Project Director, Antonio Betti at the site.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Snowy Hydro’s Charlie Litchfield (middle).

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Snowy Hydro Snowy 2.0 Project Director Kieran Cusack.

A plan on site showing colour chart for what TBM is used on what part of the tunnel.

An impression of what the accommodation area will look like.

Plans were on display.

Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad speaks at the federal announcement.

Machinery in operation below the Tunnel Portal. The road leading away takes you back to the access road, and bridge over Yarrangobilly River some kilometres away towards right of picture.

Onsite concrete plant.

A wider of the valley looking east across the concrete plant, the Tunnel Portal way in the distance.

Snowy Hydro’s Gabrielle Curtin and Charlie Litchfield look at the plans.

This building can be seen in Snowy Hydro social media posts with cladding now.

The new bridge over the Yarrangobilly River.

Future Generation Joint Venture Project Director, Antonio Betti at the site.

Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, whose grandfather Sir William Hudson headed construction for Snowy Scheme project.