Fortescue powers ahead with battery-electric truck testing


Fortescue is testing a 240-tonne payload battery-electric haul truck developed in collaboration with German-Swiss multinational equipment manufacturer Liebherr as part of the miner’s decarbonisation strategy, which includes replacing its existing diesel-fuelled fleet with battery electric and green hydrogen powered haul trucks before 2030.

The converted MT4400 AC truck, nicknamed Roadrunner, uses a 1.4 MWh battery that has been developed by Fortescue’s Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) team for the Liebherr trucks. The bespoke battery weighs 15 tonnes, measures 3.6 m long, 1.6 m wide and 2.4 m high, and is made up of eight sub-packs, each with 36 modules, all individually cooled and each with its own management system.

WAE Technologies Chief Executive Craig Wilson said the battery has to ability to fast-charge in 30 minutes and capacity to regenerate power as it drives downhill.

“This high-performance power system not only boasts the highest energy storage of its kind but will also be the first to offer 30-minute fast charging,” he said.

“This system is the first of many technologies that can help enable Fortescue to realise its industry leading 2030 net-zero target. Powered solely by renewable energy, it will help prevent enormous amounts of fossil fuel from being used in the mining industry, with the goal to not compromise the vehicle’s load capacity.”

The 1.4 MWh battery weighs in at a healthy 15 tonnes.

Image: Fortescue

Fortescue said the Roadrunner is expected to be joined by a 3 MW charger prototype – developed by WAE and a third party – by the end of the year.

The prototype truck is part of a deal that Fortescue struck with Swiss-based Liebherr in mid-2022 to have zero emission haul units fully operational at Fortescue mine sites by 2025.

Under the deal, Fortescue agreed to purchase a fleet of 120 haul trucks, a commitment that represents approximately 45% of the current haul truck fleet at Fortescue’s operations.

Fortescue is also testing the first of its hydrogen fuel cell trucks at the Christmas Creek mine.

Speaking at the World Mining Congress in Brisbane earlier this year, Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Fiona Hick said the company plans to have its first green hydrogen fuel cell haul truck prototype working alongside the Roadrunner later this year.

“Our goal is to have the first green haul truck operational at our sites in three years, in 2026,” she said. “We believe battery electric, green hydrogen and green ammonia will all be critical to our overall decarbonisation plan, and we are taking practical steps to apply the best solution to each different situation.”

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