The next stage of the Snowy 2.0 expansion will see a tunnel-boring machine from Germany begin drilling on a 27km route that will connect the Tantangara Reservoir to an underground power station for the Snowy Hydro project.
The crucial stage of the Snowy 2.0 expansion can begin after the NSW Government approved the Polo Flat segment factory on 6 April. Each segment, weighing seven tonnes, will line the project’s waterway tunnel.
To build the tunnel, the German boring machine will drill the 27km, 11m-wide tunnel that will go 400m underground.
NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the approval of the Snowy Hydro segment factory is fantastic news for the region, with construction of the concrete production facility to begin within weeks.
More than 150 new jobs will be created, which will see $55 million injected into local economies.
Mr Barilaro heralded the next stage of the Snowy Hydro Scheme as part of the folklore of the Monaro.
“This approval means work can get underway on a critical part of the project’s infrastructure, which will provide huge benefits and job opportunities for the area,” he said.
“Around 150 jobs will be created as part of the new infrastructure, with many of these being entry-level positions, with all training provided.
“These opportunities couldn’t come at a better time with many in our community facing unexpected unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
About 30 of the jobs will be created during the construction phase, with another 125 jobs being advertised once the infrastructure is operational.
The Polo Flat segment factory, 5km from Cooma, will produce 130,000 segments that make up the concrete rings that will line the Snowy 2.0 tunnel.
Snowy Hydro CEO and managing director Paul Broad said 1000 more jobs will be created indirectly through supply chains and support services. The company will also work with Monaro High School to pilot school-based trade training.
“We fought hard to build the factory locally rather than importing segments from overseas or interstate because it means local jobs, opportunities and investment,” said Mr Broad.
“During the five-month construction period, we will invest $55 million and create 30 jobs. When it is operational, it will have an annual turnover of $115 million and create 125 operational jobs.”
Mr Broad said these jobs will be welcome following the past summer’s devastating bushfires and during the current COVID-19 pandemic. About 500 people are already working on Snowy 2.0, and at its peak the workforce will comprise around 2000 people.
“This year has been extraordinarily difficult for Australia, particularly the local area,” said Mr Broad.
“At times like this, we need to continue to drive jobs and investment. That is why we have been so determined to ensure Snowy 2.0 continues full steam ahead.
“This announcement that we are starting construction on the Polo Flat segment factory is just another piece of the puzzle.
“The Snowy Mountains is an extraordinarily strong and resilient community. It will bounce back, and Snowy Hydro will be there every step of the way.”
The environmental impact assessment for the Polo Flat segment factory focused on sections of the Snowy Mountains Highway and Monaro Highway, as well as the connecting local road network between the site of the factory and construction sites within Kosciusko National Park.
Mitigation measures include reduced speed areas, intersection improvements in Cooma and upgrades to accommodate the combined impact of assumed traffic volumes in 2022 and estimated traffic associated with the usual winter peak period.
Further road maintenance will also be undertaken along with community consultation.