Bit by 130,000 bits ! That's how the massive Snowy 2.0 hydro tunnels will be lined, with work on the massive number of concrete lining segments offically started.
A purpose built precast factory in Cooma has been built to mould the 130,000 concrete segments that will have to be trucked to the construction site between Tantangara dam and Talbingo reservoir, about 80-100 kilometres west.
The factory operations include a concrete batching plant and two automated carousels, producing up to 24 rings, each one made of nine segments, per day. It's employing 220 people.
Raw materials are sourced from the local area to mix concrete within the batching plant, which is then transferred into the factory and poured into specially-designed moulds every 10 minutes, Snowy Hydro said.
In a recycling initiative, around 70,000 tonnes of slag - a by-product of the steel manufacturing process - is used to produce the segments. This reduces the amount of cement required by 40 per cent.
The segments will supply the three Snowy 2.0 tunnel boring machines as they excavate and line more than 27 kilometres of tunnels between Tantangara and Talbingo reservoirs.
Snowy Hydro CEO and Managing Director Paul Broad said he was pleased to see many locals employed at the factory as part of Snowy 2.0.
"Right from the start, we wanted to build this factory locally rather than import segments from overseas or interstate because it meant local jobs, opportunities and investment," Mr Broad said.
"So it's with great pride that we celebrate the official launch of this critical facility for Snowy 2.0 alongside our principal contractor and factory operator Future Generation Joint Venture."
Snowy Hydro said the Lady Eileen Hudson TBM is well underway excavating the main access tunnel (currently more than 600 metres in), and the second machine, TBM Kirsten, is being assembled ready for commissioning and launch.
Snowy 2.0 project background: Snowy 2.0 will link two existing Snowy Scheme reservoirs, Tantangara and Talbingo, with 27km of waterway tunnels and a power station with six pump-turbines located about 800m underground. Water in the top storage will be released for energy generation at times of peak demand and pumped back at times when there is excess energy in the grid, so Snowy 2.0 is ready to meet demand when needed.
The $5.1 billion Snowy 2.0 project is powering ahead, delivering jobs and significant economic benefit to the regions. More than 1,200 people are already working on the project including over 220 jobs during the segment factory construction and operation.