Roy Hill on track with battery powered locomotive purchase


Roy Hill will purchase the world’s first fully battery-powered, heavy-haul locomotive from Pittsburgh-based Wabtec, transforming the cost of transporting iron ore from pit to port.

The FLXdrive locomotive will arrive on Australian shores in 2023 when Roy Hill will use it to haul iron ore through the heat of Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Roy Hill general manager of engineering Simon Pascoe said the purchase combined low cost with high productivity.

“Our analysis with Wabtec confirms the FLXdrive locomotive is ideally suited for our rail network,” Pascoe said.

“It has the horsepower to operate in a heavy haul train consist pulling loaded wagons with 35,000 tonnes of iron ore, while at the same time reducing the entire train’s fuel consumption.”

Roy Hill currently operators four Wabtec ES44ACi Evolution Series diesel-electric locomotives which typically measure 2.7 kilometres.

From 2023, the FLXdrive will replace one of the diesel-electric models.

The FLXdrive recharges during the trip while under braking and has a Trip Optimiser system – an intelligent cruise control system to minimise energy consumption.

Wabtec regional senior vice president Australia and New Zealand Wendy McMillan commended Roy Hill for taking this next step in sustainable operation.

“By adopting this revolutionary technology in region, Roy Hill is pioneering new approaches to its operations that will benefit the company’s bottom line,” McMillan said.

“The FLXdrive is a continuation of our growing partnership and shared vision to bring more efficient solutions to mining and rail industries.”

The FLXdrive comes in line with Wabtec’s goal to reduce global carbon emissions by almost 300 million tonnes.

Wabtec Freight Equipment president Rogerio Mendonca said the FLXdrive would go a long way to helping Wabtec achieve its goals.

“The FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive is a bold step toward a low-to-zero-emission locomotive future,” Mendonca said.

“We continue working on solutions that cut the overall carbon footprint of the industries we serve through the development of low-emitting locomotives like the FLXdrive, and the use of alternative fuels such as bio-diesel, renewable diesel and hydrogen.”

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