Electric excavator edging diesel alternative at Fortescue mine site

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Fortescue said the capacity of Australia’s first electric excavator, which currently operates partially off solar and is powered by a 6.6 kV substation and more than two kilometres of high voltage trailing cable, has been clearly demonstrated with one million tonnes of ore moved since it commenced operations.

Fortescue said the 400-tonne electric excavator had over the past three months been operating at partial capacity while the Cloudbreak mine site team familiarised themselves with the new piece of equipment.

The machine is now operating at full speed and Fortescue said “its performance continues to steadily improve with the excavator at times performing better than its diesel equivalent.”

Fortescue Metals Chief Executive Officer Dino the team’s focus is now on ensuring the excavator’s consistent performance with the miner planning to add two more of the electric machines to its fleet by the end of April.

Otranto said the move is in line with Fortescue’s commitment to eliminate emissions across mining operations. The company’s intention is that all electrified mining equipment will eventually be 100% powered by renewable electricity.

“Once we decarbonise our entire fleet, around 95 million litres of diesel will be removed from our operations every year, or more than a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent,” he said.

The update on the excavator comes just days after Fortescue’s 240-tonne battery electric haul truck prototype, Roadrunner, reached its own milestone during its onsite testing.

“Roadrunner recently completed its first phase of testing which exceeded the performance expectations of the battery power system,” Otranto said.

“This included laps around our testing track and ramp tests with hill starts, all while carrying 231 tonnes of iron ore.”

“It’s milestones such as these that are bridging the gap between zero emissions power systems and diesel fleets, and proving to the world that decarbonisation is possible.”

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