Fortescue’s first operational electric excavator reaches one million tonne milestone

Fortescue’s adoption of electric-powered heavy machinery has reached a new pinnacle with its electric excavator moving a staggering one million tonnes of material since it began operations. Initially, the excavator operated below full capacity for a period of three months. This phase allowed the onsite personnel to acquire hands-on experience and a comprehensive understanding of the functionalities of the state-of-the-art machinery.

Having transitioned to full throttle, the excavator’s efficiency is on an upward trajectory, demonstrating periods of performance that eclipse its diesel-fueled counterparts. The operational team is currently channeling its efforts into sustaining this high efficiency on a consistent basis. Nestled within the operational precincts of Fortescue’s Chichester hub, the innovative Liebherr R 9400 E excavator not only draws power from solar sources but is also connected to a 6.6kV substation, complemented by an extensive network of over two kilometers of high voltage trailing cables.

The transformation of the R 9400 into the electrified R 9400 E was borne out of Liebherr’s modular design philosophy which lends itself to quick conversion endeavors. The conversion entailed the removal of the diesel powerpack and fuel reservoir, replacing them with an electric drivetrain powerpack and a high voltage cabinet. The transition also led to the redundancy of several components that were previously indispensable to the diesel-driven R 9400, like the water-cooling system, radiators, fans, and air intake infrastructure.

However, the electrical integration posed unique challenges, particularly with the rotary connection that necessitates a dedicated interface to manage the high voltage link between the movable parts of the R 9400 E. Hence, a novel rotary connection was implemented to bridge this gap.

Designed to use 6,600 volts at 50 hertz for its initial power-up, the R 9400 E’s start-up procedure is streamlined through a specialized transformer system developed by Liebherr. This innovative system significantly reduces the amount of inrush current drawn from the power grid, thereby minimizing potential disturbances within the network.

In a broader sustainability initiative, Fortescue envisions the electrification of its entire fleet of mining equipment, aiming for full operational power to be harnessed from renewable energy sources in the future.

This significant milestone was announced in close succession to another achievement by Fortescue’s pioneering project — the 240-tonne battery-electric haul truck, named Roadrunner, which also accomplished a key performance milestone during its rigorous testing operations on-site.

Fulian Operation Team


Notice: Published shipping news is just part of all shipping news. Most news stay between client and us for privacy.


  • Don’t worry, we hate spam too.
  • FL produce all parts for undercarriage. Name it and we’ll see what we can do.

Meet us in 2024 EXPO Saudi Arabia "SAUDIPROJECTS Construction Building & Design"