What is the future for mining vehicles?

Jon Lawson

Fortescue Metals has teamed up with Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) to create an electric mining haul truck. The vehicle is a 240-tonne prototype machine based in Perth, Australia and the powertrain development work will take place at WAE’s Oxfordshire, UK HQ before being tested in the field. To accelerate the creation of a full battery-electric haulage fleet, the project will also involve the development of a fast charging unit which will harness renewable energy from Fortescue’s Pilbara Energy Connect network.

Fortescue’s Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines explained: “Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the planet and Fortescue is committed to tackling this challenge head on through our target to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040. This includes a 26% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from existing operations from 2020 levels by 2030. With around a quarter of these emissions attributed to our mobile haul fleet, this represents a significant opportunity to drive our pathway to being diesel-free. Fortescue’s history of developing and adopting innovation and technology has been key to the success of our business and in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, we look forward to applying this technology-first strategy to our emissions reduction pathway.”

WAE has good experience in this technology. The company was the original supplier of batteries to the grid of the FIA Formula E World Championship cars in 2014, a relationship that has been revived for 2022-23 season. 

Volvo CE to build a quarry test site 

Volvo CE is also investing heavily in new powertrain projects for the industrial sector. At its Customer Centre in Eskilstuna, Sweden the company is creating a site dedicated to testing and demonstrating the latest innovations in sustainable power, connectivity and autonomous solutions. The 66,000m2 area will include a secure track for full-electric, automated and teleoperated machines with charging infrastructures and 5G connectivity, a control and training room building, a spectator stand and training area for the Volvo Co-Pilot assist functions.

Calle Skillsäter, technical specialist in connected machines at Volvo Autonomous Solutions said, “We are excited to demonstrate our complete TARA autonomous transport solution to customers, including how to set up and run the site, how to charge and store the TA15 electric autonomous haulers, and how we manage the control room and surveillance operations – everything in a brand new state-of-the-art facility.” 

The track will also demonstrate remote-controlled machines using two teleoperation rigs installed in one of the control rooms. It is expected to open by the autumn.


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