Fortescue Metals Group has announced an agreement with Williams Advanced Engineering to design and implement a battery system to power an electric mining haul truck.
Williams Advanced Engineering is a spinoff of the renowned Williams F1 team, which has won nine Grand Prix constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ championships since 1980.
The FMG collaboration will see Williams Advanced Engineering design and build an electric battery powertrain that will enable haul trucks to regenerate power while travelling downhill, while the overall project will involve the development of a fast-charging unit that will harness renewable energy from Fortescue’s Pilbara Energy Connect network.
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The battery will be built in the UK and shipped to WA for testing in the Pilbara.
FMG Chief Executive Elizabeth Gaines said the WAE project was the latest step in the iron ore miner’s bid to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040.
“This [2040 vision] includes a 26 per cent reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from existing operations from 2020 levels by 2030,” Gaines said.
“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.”
Williams Advanced Engineering has been heavily involved in the Formula E international racing championship for electric cars.
Electric vehicles have an increasingly important part to play in the mining landscape but most of the high-profile innovation so far in this space has revolved around light vehicles.
In January BHP announced the trial of an electric Landcruiser70 at its Nickel West Cliffs underground mine in the northern Goldfields. The vehicle had been converted from diesel to electric power and would perform a number of roles both above and below ground.
Meanwhile, the Australian-built Bortana EV has already been successfully trialled at IGO’s Nova mine in the Goldfields and Mincor’s Long mine in the Kambalda district.
The Bortana’s inventor Steve Durkin predicted last year that the electric vehicle revolution would quickly gain traction in Australian mining.
“We’re on a cusp of a wave with the use of electric vehicles in mining,” Durkin said.
“In Australia we’re a bit behind the rest of the world. It really started in Canada and we’re now catching up.”