Fortescue Metals Group has entered into an agreement to acquire UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) from EMK Capital and Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited for £164 million ($223 million) in a deal that will, FMG says, enable it to accelerate and support the decarbonisation of its mining operations as well as establish an important new business growth opportunity.
The transaction is expected to conclude by the end of March 2022, subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions precedent including United Kingdom foreign investment approval.
WAE, an offshoot of the Williams F1 team founded by the revered, late Sir Frank Williams CBE, will be vertically integrated into Fortescue’s diversified resources and green energy business and will be managed via Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), Fortescue’s green energy and green technology division.
Fortescue has worked closely with WAE since early 2021 to design and build a prototype battery system to power an electric mining haul truck, an important first step in the decarbonisation of its mining haul fleet, the miner said.
Together, Fortescue and WAE will develop battery-electric solutions for Fortescue’s rail, mobile haul fleet and other heavy mining equipment, to accelerate the rapid abatement of diesel usage to achieve the decarbonisation of Fortescue’s mining operations by 2030. In addition, Fortescue and WAE will work together to grow WAE’s green technology and engineering business.
One of the first major projects to be developed will be a world leading battery-electric train concept. Fortescue and FFI will announce further details on this early in 2022. The two are also working on a 240 t all-battery-electric truck that is in development. WAE has begun testing the cells of a battery that will power the battery-electric truck before performance testing at FMG’s Pilbara mining operations.
Fortescue, as a foundation customer, will support the development and manufacturing of battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell power units with the goal for WAE to become a major player in the growing global market for heavy mobile equipment and rail.
WAE has also worked with Anglo American on its 291-t-class Komatsu 930E fuel cell electric vehicle.
Fortescue Founder and Chairman, Dr Andrew Forrest, said: “Together FFI and WAE will work to decarbonise Fortescue – with the aim of achieving that faster and more effectively than anyone else in the world. This is an historic moment in the future of our company as we welcome the WAE family into the Fortescue family to work together to decarbonise heavy industry and hard to abate sectors for the good of our planet, and the benefit of our shareholders.
“This announcement is the key to unlocking the formula for removing fossil fuel powered machinery and replacing it with zero carbon emission technology, powered by FFI green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.”
Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue and WAE share strong cultural alignment with a focus on technology and innovation to support carbon neutrality, both companies being leaders in their respective industries.
“We have been working with WAE since early 2021, with WAE designing and building a battery system to power an electric mining haul truck; an important first step in the decarbonisation of Fortescue’s mining haul fleet. WAE’s expertise in battery systems and electrification further complements FFI’s green hydrogen projects for haul trucks and mobile fleet to further underpin our technical leadership.
“We look forward to working together to apply this technology-first strategy to our emissions reduction pathway while also empowering the highly capable WAE team to achieve growth opportunities in new products, services and markets.”
FFI Chief Executive Officer, Julie Shuttleworth, added: “The acquisition of WAE adds cutting-edge technology, intellectual property and engineering capabilities to support and accelerate FFI’s Green Fleet technology pathway. Rapid growth of WAE’s world-leading technology and engineering business and an expansion of its manufacturing footprint further enhances FFI’s position to become a major player in the global market for decarbonisation of the global heavy industry sector.”
Craig Wilson, Chief Executive Officer WAE, said: “High performance battery and electrification systems are at the core of what we do at WAE, and this acquisition and investment will enable the company’s further growth to support the delivery of zero emission products and services across existing sectors – such as automotive, motorsport and off-highway – and new sectors too. This will benefit all of our stakeholders along with current and future customers who are very important to us.
“We are delighted to play a key role in Fortescue’s decarbonisation strategy, contributing to the delivery of their emissions reduction targets through high performance battery systems, green hydrogen and related technologies. We will also be focusing on addressing the sector-wide challenges in the off-highway sector. Both companies have a shared culture of innovation, setting and achieving challenging objectives and a genuine commitment to creating a sustainable future.”