Fortescue Metals ‘charges’ ahead with battery-electric truck plans

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By Colin Hay - 
Fortescue Metals ASX FMG battery electric truck WAE Technologies Pilbara

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) has commenced a significant new chapter in its move to “green” up its operations with a program that is testing the use of battery-electric trucks in its Western Australian operations.

The initial focus is on testing a battery-electric converted MT4400 AC truck at its Christmas Creek iron ore operations in the Pilbara.

The battery powering the pilot vehicle for the current program, a 1.4 MWh unit, was developed by Fortescue subsidiary WAE Technologies.

Weighing in at a massive 15 tonnes and measuring 3.6m long, 1.6m wide and 2.4m high, the system is made up of eight sub-packs, each with 36 modules.

Its designers have also developed a unique fast-charging system that allows the truck to be recharged quickly, while the truck can regenerate some of its own power as the vehicle drives downhill using its braking system.

Energy growth

There is no doubt that Fortescue is taking its clean energy creation strategy seriously.

The introduction of battery-powered mining vehicles is part of a decarbonisation strategy under which it has stated it can prevent around 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year entering the atmosphere from 2030.

The company has also recently created a separate Energy Division, opened a new battery and electric powertrain construction facility in the UK and earlier this week hired the highly-regarded Deborah Caudle as its chief financial officer for the new Energy Division.

Battery and powertrain facility

In June, Fortescue revealed it had significantly expanded its battery and electric powertrain production operations in the UK with the creation of an additional state-of-the-art facility in Oxfordshire.

The expansion is part of Fortescue’s commitment to grow its British presence through the recent integration of British manufacturers WAE (formerly Williams Advanced Engineering).

The new location is focused on production of a wide range of zero-emission products for the off-road sector including trucks and trains.

The company said it will form part of a new global business that is aimed at driving decarbonisation in all fields of economic activity and building sovereign capabilities in emerging technology.

New appointment

On August 2, Fortescue Energy named Deborah Caudle to a new leadership team which is helping transition Fortescue into a global green metals and energy company, alongside its iron ore operations.

Ms Caudle has joined chief executive officer Mark Hutchinson in Fortescue’s plans to develop green electrons, green hydrogen and green technology at scale as part of the new energy focus.

Formerly the acting chief financial officer of OZ Minerals prior to BHP’s (ASX: BHP) $9.6 billion acquisition of the ASX100 company in May 2023, Ms Caudle joins Fortescue from BHP where she held the role of finance executive overseeing integration activities.

She started her long and impressive career as a process engineer with BHP in the Pilbara.

Ms Caudle has been tasked with helping Fortescue Energy bring five projects to the Fortescue board for final investment decision this year.

“We are at a pivotal moment in time where the choices we make will determine the future of our planet. As the chief financial officer of Fortescue Energy, I will play my part in providing for a better future while creating greater value for our Fortescue shareholders,” she said.