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EOI campaign launched to begin underground tunnelling on $14.2b project

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A significant step has been taken in a project set to inject tens of millions into the regional economy, with a call for expressions of interest to begin underground tunnelling on the Borumba Pumped Hydro underway.

The EOI for underground works marks the first step in the most significant program to be delivered during the exploratory works phase of the project.

The package will involve the excavation of soil and rock utilising controlled blast and drilling methods, rather than tunnel boring machine, to form a D-shaped tunnel leading to the proposed site of the underground powerhouse cavern.

This tunnelling will complement surface geological investigations, which together will provide a detailed understanding of ground conditions to inform detailed design of the project and how it is best delivered.

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The works will be accompanied by the required environmental approvals and, once complete, the excavated tunnel will be repurposed to become a permanent cable tunnel.

The $14.2b pumped hydro energy project, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, is being delivered by public energy company Queensland Hydro.

Queensland Hydro CEO Kieran Cusack; Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Minister Mick de Brenni and Plumbing and Pipe Trades Employees Union organiser Luke Barden.

“Queensland Hydro is pleased to release this EOI to the market,” CEO Kieran Cusack said.

“We’re excited about this release because it’s the first major package of works since we launched our industry engagement program in July, with three industry events held in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gympie.

“Attendees came from a broad range of industry including contractors, local suppliers, service suppliers, consultants, equipment suppliers and potential industry partners.

“We’ve been working with industry to ensure we attract the best partners for the project while creating opportunities for local industry involvement.

“Queensland Hydro will work with the successful contractor to maximise opportunities for local and Indigenous businesses and workers to be prepared for, and access opportunities on the exploratory works program.”

The EOI release follows the Coordinator-General’s coordinated project declaration on October 12, signalling the start of the assessment of social, economic and environmental matters before the Borumba project’s main works can begin.

The first of the Palaszczuk Governments two foundational hydropower energy storage projects, the 2000MW Borumba project will charge up from excess wind and solar generated in the state’s southeast to keep the lights on for up to two millions households.

Once underway, the project’s main works will create more than 2000 jobs during construction, and boost the regional economy by tens of millions.

Borumba Dam, west of the Sunshine Coast.

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the project would drive economic growth and help deliver cleaner energy.

“Experts and responsible leaders around the world are recognising the critical role of pumped hydropower in unlocking the capacity of renewables and delivering the clean energy transition,” he said.

“Pumped Hydro offers a trifecta of opportunity by driving sustainable economic growth, bringing wealth and equality to more communities, and combating climate change.

“This next phase of works on the Borumba Pumped Hydro project shows how committed Queensland Hydro and the Palaszczuk Government are to delivering this key clean energy project.

“Throughout construction the project will deliver a significant uplift in jobs and a boost to the regional economy, and once completed it will also deliver cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy for all Queenslanders.

“As the cornerstone of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan, our pumped hydro projects will ensure Queensland remains on track to meeting its renewable energy targets, while ensuring we can continue to put ongoing downward pressure on electricity bills for years to come.”

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