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Use of a Tunnel Boring Machine on Nepal’s First and Second TBM-Driven Tunnels

Nepal’s mountainous terrain has historically been a challenge to tunnel through. That very terrain also holds great promise for hydropower – a resource that the country is now beginning to tap into. Launched in October 2022, a 6.4 m Double Shield TBM is making Nepal’s hydropower plans into a reality as it bores the 13.1 km headrace tunnel for the Sunkoshi Marin Diversion Multipurpose Project (SMDMP). The tunnel is connected to a 28.6 MW surface powerhouse on the Marin River.

The SMDMP is the machine’s second tunnel: on its 12.2km first tunnel (the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project/BBDMP), the TBM finished nearly one year early and achieved 1,202 m advance in one month. It was the first instance of TBM use in the country.

In this paper, we examine the successes and lessons learned in Nepal’s mountainous conditions during excavation of both the SMDMP and BBDMP.



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