Analysis and Commentary

If you can’t tow a caravan with an EV, then excavate iron ore

Analysis and Commentary

The ability of electric powered machines to do the job – even towing a caravan – has been demonstrated with Fortescue’s first operational electric excavator reaching one million tonnes of ore moved.

Over the past three months, the excavator had been running at partial capacity while the Cloudbreak mine site team familiarised themselves with the new piece of equipment, according to the iron ore miner and green industry pioneer.

Now operating at full-speed, its performance continues to steadily improve with the excavator at times performing better than its diesel equivalent. The team’s focus is now on ensuring its consistent performance.

Fortescue Metals CEO Dino Otranto said: “This is such an exciting milestone for Fortescue and our decarbonisation journey.

“Importantly, we’ve been able to achieve this while maintaining our high safety standards.”

Fortescue is to add two additional electric excavators by the end of April.

“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.”

Located at Fortescue’s Chichester operations, the excavator currently operates partially off solar and is powered by a 6.6kV substation and more than two kilometres of high voltage trailing cable.

In line with the company’s commitment to eliminate emissions across mining operations, the intention is that all electrified mining equipment will eventually be 100 per cent powered by renewable electricity.

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

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

“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.”

This should once and for all put to bed absurd claims that electric powered machinery and vehicles are less capable than polluting IC powered ones.

– Peter Roberts

Picture: Fortescue/electric excavator at Cloudbreak

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