Williams Advanced Engineering to develop a battery system with Fortescue for a 240-tonne electric hauler

Australians may be less keen to hop onto the electric car bandwagon, but the country’s mining industry is actively looking to cut down on fleet emissions. For example, Toyota Australia signed a partnership with BHP earlier this year to trial an electric-converted Land Cruiser for underground mine use.

Now, Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) and Fortescue Metals Group announced an agreement to design, build, test and integrate a new battery system to power an electric mining haul truck. The bespoke battery will be built at WAE’s facility in the UK before being shipped to Perth, Australia for integration into a 240-tonne prototype hauler. It will then be sent for testing at Fortescue’s mining operations in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

The design and construction of the powertrain will include the ability to regenerate power as the truck travels downhill. A fast-charging unit that harnesses renewable energy from Fortescue’s Pilbara Energy Connect network will also be developed as well.

For the project, WAE will be drawing on its high performance battery expertise (the core of its business) covering 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, and will do so once again for the 2022-23 season.

WAE managing director, Craig Wilson said: “We are delighted to be working with Fortescue on this pioneering project that will help enable their future decarbonisation strategy, contributing to a reduction of carbon emissions in the heavy-duty mining sector. 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.”

Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines added: “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.”

“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,” she said.

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