Fortescue achieves milestone with electric excavator

Fortescue Metals Group has reached a significant operational milestone with one of its pioneering electric excavators, which has efficiently moved over a million tonnes of material in a mere three months since deployment.

Positioned at the Cloudbreak mine within the prodigious Chichester Hub, situated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, this 300-tonne behemoth is spearheading a new era in mining operations. Initially, there was a period allocated for familiarization; however, it has quickly ramped up to operate at full capacity, even surpassing the performance metrics of traditional diesel-fueled excavators at times.

Fortescue’s Chief Executive Officer, Dino Otranto, expressed both pride and optimism in reaching this milestone, stating, “We have successfully demonstrated that our commitment to high productivity can go hand-in-hand with our ambitious sustainability goals to significantly cut down emissions.”

With plans to incorporate two additional electric excavators into their fleet the following month, Otranto highlights the tangible environmental benefits: “By transitioning to electric solutions, we take a giant leap towards sustainability, aiming to reduce our diesel consumption by over 95 million litres annually, and thereby cutting back on over 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.”

The current excavator model is partially powered by solar energy, sourced from a 6.6 kilovolt (KV) substation in proximity. The long-term objective for Fortescue is to operate all their electrified equipment entirely on renewable energy, cementing their path towards fully decarbonised operations.

This announcement follows closely on the heels of another achievement involving the company’s 240-tonne battery electric haul truck prototype, dubbed ‘Roadrunner,’ which has also recently concluded successful load tests, carrying upwards of 230 tonnes of iron ore.

Commenting on these developments, Otranto remarked, “These benchmarks are instrumental in closing the gap between traditional fossil-fuel reliance and a future of zero-emission mining machinery, asserting the viability of decarbonisation within heavy industries.”

The notable electric excavator was provided by Liebherr, a firm that has cooperated closely with Fortescue in adapting the established trailing cable technology for an innovative means of powering these colossal machines.

Looking ahead, it is projected that two additional electric excavators from Liebherr will become a part of Fortescue’s active machinery lineup within the upcoming year, further strengthening their commitment to environmentally responsible mining practices.

Fulian Operation Team


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