Williams Advanced Engineering partners with Fortescue on battery electric haul truck project

By Chad Elmore04 March 2021

Williams Advanced Engineering will partner with Fortescue Metals Group to create a battery electric mine haul truck.

Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) and Fortescue Metals Group have announced an agreement to design, build, test and integrate a battery system to power an electric mine haul truck.

The project will involve the design and construction of a battery electric powertrain with the ability to regenerate power as the truck travels downhill. The battery will be built at WAE’s facility in Grove, Oxfordshire, UK before being shipped to Perth, Australia, for integration into a 240-tonne prototype haul truck for performance testing at Fortescue’s mining operations in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

To support the full implementation of a battery-electric haulage fleet, the project will also involve the development of a fast-charging unit which will harness renewable energy from Fortescue’s Pilbara Energy Connect network.

“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the planet and Fortescue is committed to tackling this challenge head on through our industry leading target to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040,” said Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines.

“This includes a 26% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from existing operations from 2020 levels by 2030. With around a quarter of these emissions attributed to our mobile haul fleet, this represents a significant opportunity to drive our pathway to being diesel free. Fortescue’s history of developing and adopting innovation and technology has been key to the success of our business and in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, we look forward to applying this technology-first strategy to our emissions reduction pathway.”

For the project, WAE will draw on its battery expertise gleaned from work in the automotive, motorsport, marine and aerospace sectors. The company was the original supplier of batteries to the entire grid of FIA Formula E World Championship cars in 2014, a relationship that has been revived for 2022 to ‘23 season.

“We are delighted to be working with Fortescue on this pioneering project that will help enable their future decarbonization strategy, contributing to a reduction of carbon emissions in the heavy-duty mining sector,” said Craig Wilson, managing director, Williams Advanced Engineering. “High performance battery systems are at the core of WAE. Both companies have a shared culture for innovation and rapid response and are committed to creating a sustainable future.’’

In 2020, Fortescue announced its target to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040 through the implementation of a range of practical initiatives including: a US $700 million investment in Fortescue’s Pilbara Energy Connect project, a hybrid solar, gas energy solution which will provide the opportunity to readily integrate additional large scale renewable energy.

The mining company has also launched a hydrogen mobility project that comprises the construction of a renewable hydrogen refueling facility and deployment of fleet of hydrogen fuel cell passenger coaches.

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