White Papers

Overcoming Extreme Tunneling Conditions in Vietnam’s Longest Tunnel

Vietnam’s Thuong Kon Tum Hydroelectric project is a 17.4 km headrace tunnel that will be the country’s longest once complete. A section of the tunnel was excavated by a 4.5 m diameter Main Beam TBM in granitic rock up to 250 MPa UCS. Started in 2012, the project’s original contractor left due to non-satisfactory performance. In 2016, the contract to refurbish the TBM and excavate the remaining 10.45 km of tunnel was awarded to a joint venture of Robbins and a local contractor. Robbins was fully responsible for the TBM operation, including supplying operational crews. The crew overcame massive granitic rock, fault zones gushing water at 600 l/s, and difficult conditions. In under two years, the TBM advanced from a standstill at 15 percent project completion to 85 percent complete. This paper addresses the refurbishment of the TBM in the tunnel, the work to streamline operation, and challenges faced.


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