Australia. Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh unveil borers for Gold Coast Desalination Project

Thursday, 31 May 2007


Premier Peter Beattie and Deputy Premier Anna Bligh yesterday unveiled the first of two giant tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will be used to excavate the marine intake and outlet tunnels for the $1.2 billion Gold Coast Desalination Project.

The giant three metre-wide machines feature a series of rotating cutters that enable them to excavate 75 metres of tunnel every week through solid bedrock. When fully assembled, the purpose-built German-made machines will weigh 150 tonnes and be 71m long.

Mr Beattie today viewed the 70 metre-deep intake and outlet tunnels, and the pre-treatment and reverse osmosis buildings currently under construction.

"The construction process of this project is very impressive," Mr Beattie said. "It is employing the most advanced water pre-treatment, reverse osmosis and tunnelling technology available in the world today. his critical infrastructure project is one of a number of initiatives the Government is undertaking to drought proof South East Queensland.”

"Nearly 700 workers are now on site, with those on actual tunnelling working 24/7 to make this happen. It has attracted expertise from around the globe. Over 20 nationalities are employed on the project and some of the world's best tunnelling and desalination experts are now working to deliver fresh water to South East Queensland," he said.

Ms Bligh said the Gold Coast project had a number benefits over similar projects elsewhere in Australia and internationally. "A great benefit of the Tugun site is that unlike Sydney and other places, this is a marine tunnelling program, having minimal impact on the environment and local communities as the tunnels - which will be 70m underground - do not run under any privately-owned land. The other great benefit, unlike many desal plants in the Middle East is that the water we are desalinating has lower natural salinity than many other plants. We are also operating in deeper water than most, including Western Australia, and have a large marine mass in the Pacific Ocean, plus the benefit of strong tidal currents to help disperse the outfall. All of this works with the construction company in delivering this project on-time," she said.

Ms Bligh said today's Queensland Water Commission monthly report had the Tugun desalination project on target to meet its regulated dates. "As scheduled, the desalination project will deliver 125 mega litres of water a day - beginning in November 2008." she said.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 May 2007 )