Fortescue says catch us if you can as Roadrunner arrives on site

Australian mining major Fortescue’s delivery of a prototype battery electric haul truck to its Christmas Creek iron ore mine in Western Australia during the June quarter has moved it a step closer to its 2030 goal of “real zero operational emissions”.

Fortescue said this week the Liebherr truck, nicknamed Roadrunner, had arrived at site for “testing in the Pilbara operating conditions”.

The companies announced a deal last June to have zero emission haul units fully operational at Fortescue mine sites by 2025, with Swiss-based Liebherr aiming to have commercial vehicles available from that time.

“We are a large fuel consumer, and fuel, particularly diesel, is a significant part of our cost base,” Fortescue CEO Fiona Hick said at the recent World Mining Congress in Brisbane.

“If we run on renewable energy instead, we will lower operating costs and create opportunities for maintenance efficiencies and productivity improvements.

“For our size and scale, there is no other mining company in the world that I know of that is taking the action Fortescue is to eliminate emissions.

“We are partnering with … Liebherr to develop and supply green mining haul trucks to integrate with zero-emission power systems. And last year we acquired UK-based WAE Technologies, which alongside Liebherr, will supply the technology and the power systems to decarbonise our fleet.”

Hick said the company planned to have its first green hydrogen fuel cell haul truck prototype working alongside the Roadrunner later this year.

“These are significant milestones and demonstrate commitment to real action to reduce carbon emissions. This testing period is helping us better understand the prototype, how they operate, how best to maintain them, and these lessons are then being fed into our broader implementation plans,” she said.

“Our goal is to have the first green haul truck operational at our sites in three years, in 2026. 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.”

Fortescue is guiding for FY24 iron ore shipments of 192-to-197 million tonnes, including 7Mt from the new Iron Bridge magnetite mine, after producing 192Mt in FY23.

It has a US$300-500m “decarbonisation” spend budgeted for FY24, with group capex of up to $3.5 billion.

This year marks 20 years since the birth of a company currently worth more than A$70 billion.


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