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Fortescue reaches electrifying milestone

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An electric excavator recently deployed by Fortescue has moved one million tonnes since becoming operational.

The electric excavator is currently based at Fortescue’s Chichester operation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The excavator operates partly off solar and is powered by a 6.6 kilovolt substation and more than two kilometres of high voltage trailing cable.

In late January, Liebherr announced that one of its R 9400 excavators had been successfully converted from diesel to electric through its ongoing partnership with Fortescue.

Almost three months later, the R 9400 excavator is operating at full-speed and is performing better than its diesel equivalent at times.

“This is such an exciting milestone for Fortescue and our decarbonisation journey,” Fortescue Metals chief executive officer Dino Otranto said.

“Importantly, we’ve been able to achieve this while maintaining our high safety standards. We will have two additional electric excavators commissioned 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.”

Fortescue’s 240-tonne battery electric haul truck prototype, Roadrunner, has also completed its first phase of on-site testing, where it exceeded performance expectations.

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

“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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