Tag Archives: Fortescue Metals Group

K2fly engaged by Fortescue for software development services

K2fly Limited says it has received orders from entities related to or associated with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd for the provision of software development services with a total contract value of A$1.2 million ($766,780).

The services will be provided on a time and materials basis over an expected period of six months.

The iron ore miner has been using K2fly’s services since 2012, initially signing up to use its Infoscope Land Management software. Within this it is also using the ASX-listed company’s Ground Disturbance Solution, among others.

Nic Pollock, CEO of K2fly, said: “We pleased to be working with Fortescue across a number of areas in the business. Fortescue are using a number of our platform solutions and, in addition, have engaged us for software development services in other areas of their business. These services are additional one-off revenues for K2fly and are also generated from time to time with other K2fly clients.”

Xerotech to test underground mine electrification limits as part of SUBSPACE ENERGY HUB

Xerotech, a leader of battery technology for heavy-duty non-road mobile machinery (NRMM), has announced a partnership with Switzerland-based VSH (VersuchsStollen Hagerbach – Hagerbach Test Gallery) and other founding members, Amberg Group, Normet, Motics, Alumina and Fortescue Future Industries in the creation of a Sub Space Energy Hub.

This development allows Xerotech to partner with VSH’s leadership in underground mining to fast-track the potential of underground mining electrification and work with other companies and thought leaders in this space, it says.

The new SUBSPACE ENERGY HUB at VSH in Switzerland offers the ideal platform for the harmonised development, prototyping and installation of new technologies that promote best practice in sustainable energy use and storage, combining both above and underground facilities, according to the partners.

Dr Barry Flannery, CEO of Xerotech, said: “This facility provides a platform to continue pushing the boundaries of our next-generation battery technology as we continue to break the limitations of what is possible in terms of NRMM electrification. This will rapidly benefit our customers who are under increasing pressure to find viable ways to electrify vehicles that at one point were thought to be too big or difficult to convert to electric.”

Michael Kompatscher, General Manager at Hagerbach Test Gallery Ltd, said: “Together with the partners like Xerotech, VSH will be transformed into a visionary sustainable and CO2 neutral underground infrastructure where construction and operation of underground space usage will be developed, prototyped and launched. This will be a model ecosystem of sustainable energy storage and delivery, above and below ground, and how it supports green energy use in future cities.”

WAE putting Fortescue in mine electrification pole position

Andrew Forrest’s statement on Fortescue Metals Group’s planned acquisition of Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), an offshoot of the Williams F1 team founded by the revered, late Sir Frank Williams CBE, back in January was hardly understated.

He said: “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 (Fortescue Future Industries) green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.”

As time has progressed, the £164 million ($193 million) deal for the UK-based WAE closed (in March), and another significant announcement in the form of a tie-up between FMG, FFI, WAE and Liebherr has followed, the FMG Founder and Chairman’s words have looked increasingly prescient.

This became apparent to IM on a recent visit to WAE’s Grove headquarters in Oxfordshire, England.

What FMG now has on its books and what FFI is managing in the form of WAE is arguably one of the world’s leading decarbonisation technology companies.

WAE’s reach goes far beyond the pit lanes of a race track. Its impact is felt in the automotive, defence, aerospace, energy, life sciences and health care sectors – as an example, a Babypod 20, a Formula One-inspired environment for new-born babies in need of emergency transportation, was on display in the boardroom IM sat in during an interview at Grove.

One of its more recent market entries has been in mining, with WAE’s fingerprints on two of the industry’s major fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) haul truck movements.

Prior to the acquisition by Fortescue, WAE provided “electrical architecture and control hardware and software” for the battery system on a 100-day “sprint” FFI project focused on converting a legacy 221-t class Terex Unit Rig MT4400 AC electric drive, diesel-powered haul truck to run on a ‘green’ hydrogen 180 kW fuel cell system and a 300 kW/h battery.

For the nuGen FCEV truck that premiered at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena PGM mine in South Africa earlier this year, WAE supplied a 1.2 MWh battery pack that, along with multiple fuel cells amounting to 800 kW of power, propelled the converted 291-t-class Komatsu 930E around the mine site.

Input to these two projects put WAE on the mining map, but this represents a fraction of the impact the company is likely to have on mining’s decarbonisation journey going forward.

WAE is currently engaged on two major projects for FFI – one being the conversion of another legacy Terex MT4400 AC electric-drive truck to an all-battery powered setup and the other being an all-battery rail loco that FFI has named the INFINITY TRAIN™.

Both projects highlight the depth of battery system technology expertise that led FMG to acquiring the company in the first place – design expertise spawned from development across multiple sectors and operating environments, utilising the latest cell technology across all form factors.

There is a common thread that hangs between all this work, as Craig Wilson, WAE CEO, explained to IM.

“We develop our battery systems for the specific application, factoring in the duty cycle, the cost constraints, required performance and environment the solution will be working in,” he said. “In motorsport, for instance, you can imagine weight, aerodynamics and space are more critical than they are in mining.”

Being battery cell, chemistry and format agnostic, WAE has built up a reputation in the battery industry for specifying and developing a diverse pool of battery systems that continue to push performance to the limit.

Differentiated modelling

Sophisticated modelling and simulation tools – much of which has been developed in-house – are behind this, according to WAE’s Chief Programme Manager, Alec Patterson.

“We have detailed in-house simulation tools which allow us to develop and optimise a battery pack’s performance against any customer’s drive cycle criteria,” he said. “This includes thermal simulation where the team model the detailed internals of a cell, allowing them to understand exactly how each cell is likely to behave and, thereby, being able to optimise their cooling for increased performance. This comes from our motorsport heritage and the team’s ability to manipulate and analyse large amounts of data through supercomputer levels of processing power.”

Prototyping and field tests are designed to “validate” this modelling and simulation work, he added.

Battery design also calls for a strong focus on safety and this is where WAE’s extensive practical experience is fully utilised.

“We have detailed in-house simulation tools which allow us to develop and optimise a battery pack’s performance against any customer’s drive cycle criteria,” Alec Patterson says

Patterson summarised this offering: “There are a number of ways the battery is developed to ensure cell safety. These range from understanding in detail the performance of the cell through practical testing, the design of the modules themselves and the monitoring of the cells for voltage and temperature throughout usage. WAE has developed its own Cell Monitoring Unit hardware and Battery Management Unit hardware and, combined, they monitor the status of the pack and control the performance outputs many times a second. In the FFI battery sub pack, dielectric (non-conductive) coolant is used so if a leak was to occur it wouldn’t cause an internal issue; detection of which would be through WAE’s propriety on-board sensors.”

Overlay these preventative measures with an array of experience in various fields that would have seen battery systems take significant G-shock loads and operate in high temperature environments – whether that be a crash on a Formula E circuit or an Extreme E race in the Sahara – and it is easy to see why FMG initially believed WAE had knowledge and skills transferrable to mining.

Patterson concludes that advances in quality within the manufacturing process will also add to the reliability of the sub packs. At WAE those advances come in the form of laser welding, which ensures each cell is connected robustly for maximum performance.

Battery prototype progress

All this and more are being factored into the 221-t all-battery solution WAE is currently focused on as part of the FFI and FMG brief.

The battery will take the place of the diesel engine and alternator and will plug directly into the Terex MT4400 inverter to drive the motors and rear wheels. The battery system will have a capacity of >1 MWh (final specification to be revealed at a later date) and will be charged by a “fast-charge solution” sourcing power from a renewable grid FMG has already setup as part of its 60 MW Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project.

FMG has already set up a renewable grid as part of its 60 MW Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project

Once the battery system is delivered, integrated into the truck and commissioned at FFI’s Hazelmere facility, it will be transported to the Pilbara where it will start extensive testing outside FMG’s current mining operations.

WAE, FMG and FFI have overcome more than a few hurdles to get to the point where they can talk about such a plan.

While most of the battery houses in the UK can test each sub pack individually, WAE had to locate a specialist test house capable of testing out the full battery pack from both a motor-drive perspective and a battery re-generation standpoint.

This has seen the complete solution – a 12 t motor, inverter, cooling system, battery system and power distribution unit – begin testing a few months back.

Charging packs of this scale is one of the major industry challenges currently.

“Our charging strategy is centred around the individual cell chemistry and form factor which allows us to specify a higher rate of charge for the battery sub pack,” Patterson said. “To enable fast charging, a combination of a large charger and ability to cool the pack through the charging process is required, and our pack is designed for both.”

At the same time, WAE is aiming to further optimise the regeneration aspect of the electrification project, realising this is key to getting the trucks to complete as many haul cycles as possible without the downtime associated with a battery recharge – even if it is a ‘fast charge’.

“The real challenge is centred around how to manage the large accumulation of energy from the wheel motor during braking or retarding downhill fully laden,” Patterson said. “Do you send this to the battery or the resistor grid to burn off? Our job is to optimise the power electronics to make sure as much of that energy as possible goes back into the battery in order to make the whole system more efficient.”

The entire battery system will soon be shipped to Australia to go into the Terex truck at Hazelmere, at which point the charging system can be fully tested and the re-generation system trialled.

Leveraging gravity

This work will no doubt influence the other big project WAE is currently involved in for FFI and FMG – the electrification of FMG’s rail operations.

Fortescue’s current rail operations include 54 operating locomotives that haul 16 train sets, together with other on-track mobile equipment. Each train set is about 2.8 km in length and has the capacity to haul 34,404 t of iron ore in 244 ore cars.

A world first, zero emission INFINITY TRAIN concept has been put forward to replace this setup – which travels on some 620 km of track between the Cloudbreak mine and Herb Elliott Port at Port Hedland.

Fortescue’s rail operations consumed 82 million litres of diesel in the 2021 financial year, accounting for 11% of Fortescue’s Scope 1 emissions (©JoshFernandes2021)

The regenerating battery-electric iron ore train project will use gravitational energy to fully recharge its battery-electric systems without any additional charging requirements for the return trip to reload, according to FMG.

The challenges associated with this project include the size of the battery and motor combination required to store enough energy from the fully laden, downhill journey from Cloudbreak to Herb Elliott Port to make sure the unladen trains can travel back without a charge, and the residual power and torque generation that would typically be applied to get the locos started.

On the latter, Patterson said: “Your contact area in terms of the wheel to rail is very small in comparison to the load, so our control strategy will utilise learning from our in-house VDC (vehicle dynamic control) software to design a solution that controls slippage for maximum adhesion.”

If an appropriate solution comes to the fore, the sustainable value is significant for FMG.

Fortescue’s rail operations consumed 82 million litres of diesel in the 2021 financial year, accounting for 11% of Fortescue’s Scope 1 emissions. This diesel consumption and associated emissions will be eliminated once the INFINITY TRAIN is fully implemented across Fortescue’s operations, significantly contributing to Fortescue’s target to achieve “real zero” terrestrial emissions (Scope 1 and 2) across its iron ore operations by 2030.

Electrification for everyone

Just as WAE’s involvement in the conception of the first Formula E battery led to wider electrification in motorsport, WAE believes its work in mining will have far-reaching ramifications across the off-highway sector.

Just how far reaching it will be is dictated by the most significant project – in terms of scale and timeline – WAE has on its books.

In June, FMG announced a partnership with Liebherr for the development and supply of green mining haul trucks for integration with the “zero emissions power system” technologies being developed by FFI and WAE.

Under the partnership, Fortescue will purchase a fleet of haul trucks from Liebherr; a commitment that represents approximately 45% of the current haul truck fleet at Fortescue’s operations, with truck haulage diesel consumption representing approximately 200 million litres in the 2021 financial year, accounting for 26% of Fortescue’s Scope 1 emissions.

The zero emissions power system technologies are expected to be fitted on machines based off the 240-t T 264 model to be deployed at its Pilbara mining operations. They could include both battery-electric and FCEV configurations, hence the reason why the all-battery prototype project and the FCEV project are so significant.

With the first of the zero emission haul truck units expected to be fully operational within Fortescue mine sites by 2025, FMG, WAE and Liebherr look set to take the electrification lead over its mining company peers.

The zero emissions power system technologies are expected to be fitted on machines based off Liebherr’s 240-t T 264 model to be deployed at Fortescue’s Pilbara mining operations

Yet Wilson says this type of solution could turn into a commercial product that others select for their own decarbonisation program – hence the industry-wide electrification potential.

When asked the question whether the company may still supply battery systems to the likes of Anglo American (as it did for the NuGen truck) under the new Fortescue ownership, he replied: “We could do, but the decision is not just down to us.

“Through the relationship with Liebherr, the intention is to provide really competitive products that are available to other mining companies, whether it be Anglo, Vale or BHP, for example…The absolute intention is not to come up with a development or product that is just for Fortescue.”

In this respect, he likens FMG to Tesla in the way the electric car manufacturer has acted as the catalyst to fundamentally change the automotive sector’s electrification approach.

“Tesla, today, is nowhere near being considered a large automotive manufacturer by industry standards, but they have created a catalyst for everybody else to move from in terms of battery-powered cars,” Wilson said.

“They have almost coerced the rest of the manufacturers to move this way; you only need to look at VW Group now – one of the world’s largest car makers – that is committing the majority of its business towards electrification.

“The difference with Fortescue is it is both the operator of these vehicles as well as the owner of the technology (through WAE). It is developing these products to use them, putting its whole business on the line.”

This extends as far as looking at its own mining operations and how it can optimise the pit profile and infrastructure to benefit from all the advantages expected to come with battery-electric haulage.

“Both the Fortescue mine planning and decarbonisation teams are working hand-in-hand with us to develop a mine site for the future of electric mining,” Patterson said. “We are working together to answer the questions about what needs to change to operate these trucks to maximise uptime, where to put the charging points, how to optimise the charging, etc.

“That work is going to be really important for us in terms of developing a commercial solution that provides the sustainable gains over the long term and decarbonises the entire fleet.”

Even when factoring in a project that takes ‘stretch targets’ to a new level, that is reliant on sourcing components from an evolving electrification supply chain, and that is scheduled to see solutions arrive within three years of finding an OEM partner in the form of Liebherr, it’s hard to doubt WAE, FMG, FFI and (of course) Andrew Forrest from steering such a project through to the finish line.

After that, it’s a matter of the rest of the industry catching up.

Fortescue pledges $6.2bn of decarbonisation investment on way to producing carbon-free iron ore

Fortescue Metals Group’s decarbonisation plans have stepped up a gear, with the company announcing it intends to eliminate fossil fuel use and achieve “real zero” terrestrial emissions (Scope 1 and 2) across its iron ore operations by 2030 with a $6.2 billion capital investment.

The investment, the company says, will eliminate Fortescue’s fossil fuel risk profile and enable it to supply its customers with a “carbon-free” product.

“Real zero” refers to no fossil fuels and, wherever possible, no offsets, the company explained. Under the use of the term, offsets must only be used as a temporary solution while the technology or innovation required to completely decarbonise is developed.

Fortescue’s strategy will see the company lead the market in terms of its response to growing customer, community and investor expectations to reduce/eliminate carbon emissions, it said.

“Fortescue expects to generate attractive economic returns from its investment arising from the operating cost savings due to the elimination of diesel, natural gas, and carbon offset purchases from its supply chain,” it added. “Fortescue is well positioned to capitalise on first-mover advantage and the ability to commercialise decarbonisation technologies.”

Fortescue made the announcement at the invitation of US President Biden’s First Movers Coalition and the United Nations Global Compact, with the Secretary General of the United Nations at the CEO roundtable on “Business leadership to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Fortescue also announced that the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) will verify and audit its emissions reduction. This technical auditing initiative was instituted to ensure companies reach their Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade.

Fortescue says its decarbonisation journey started on the commencement of the first major trip on August 25, 2020, during the advent of COVID-19 to secure technology, demand and resources for the green energy ecosystem. It consolidated further at the successful completion of the 100-day sprint to create the world’s first mining truck to run on hydrogen (a FCEV).

When fully implemented, Fortescue’s decarbonisation strategy and associated investment will provide significant environmental and economic returns by 2030, including:

  • Avoidance of 3 Mt of CO2-equivalent emissions per year;
  • Net operating cost savings of $818 million per year from 2030, at prevailing market prices of diesel, gas and Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs);
  • Cumulative operating cost savings of $3 billion by 2030 and payback of capital by 2034, at prevailing market prices;
  • Elimination of Fortescue’s exposure to fossil fuels and associated fossil fuel price volatility which, in turn, will de-risk the operating cost profile;
  • Removal of the company’s exposure to price risks associated with relying on carbon offsets as well as carbon tax regulatory risk;
  • Establish a significant new green growth opportunity by producing a carbon-free iron ore product and through the commercialisation of decarbonisation technologies;
  • Ensuring future access to green driven capital markets.

Fortescue’s capital estimate of $6.2 billion is expected to see the investment largely planned in the company’s 2024-2028 financial years. This investment includes the deployment of an additional 2-3 GW of renewable energy generation and battery storage and the estimated incremental costs associated with a green mining fleet and locomotives.

The capital expenditure to purchase the fleet will be aligned with the scheduled asset replacement life cycle and included in Fortescue’s sustaining capital expenditure. Studies are underway to optimise the localised wind and solar resources.

The investment is expected to generate a positive net present value through enabling the displacement of approximately 700 million litres of diesel and 15 million GJ of gas per year by 2030, as well as the associated reduction in CO 2 emissions.

Fortescue Executive Chairman, Dr Andrew Forrest AO, said: “There’s no doubt that the energy landscape has changed dramatically over the past two years and this change has accelerated since Russia invaded Ukraine.

“We are already seeing direct benefits of the transition away from fossil fuels – we avoided 78 million litres of diesel usage at our Chichester Hub in financial year 2022 – but we must accelerate our transition to the post fossil fuel era, driving global scale industrial change as climate change continues to worsen. It will also protect our cost base, enhance our margins and set an example that a post fossil fuel era is good commercial, common sense.

“Fortescue, FFI and FMG are moving at speed to transition into a global green metals, minerals, energy and technology company, capable of delivering not just green iron ore but also the minerals, knowledge and technology critical to the energy transition.

“Consistent with Fortescue’s disciplined approach to capital allocation, this investment in renewable energy and decarbonisation is expected to generate attractive economic returns for our shareholders through energy cost savings and a sharp reduction in carbon offset purchases, together with a lower risk cost profile and improvement in the integrity of our assets.”

Fortescue has already made significant effort in decarbonising its iron ore operations through its successful green fleet trials and innovation, acquisition of Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) and its partnership with Liebherr in June this year. Building on Fortescue’s announcement in March 2022 to develop with FFI and WAE the world’s first regenerating battery electric iron ore train, feasibility studies are progressing, with delivery of the first parabolic (gravity powered) drive trains to the Infinity locomotives scheduled to be operational by the end of 2026.

Australian skills shortage on the agenda at IMARC

Leaders from the resources sector are aiming to address the chronic and systemic skills shortage facing the Australian mining industry at November’s International Mining and Resources Conference & Expo (IMARC), in Sydney, Australia, the event organisers say.

The Federal Government’s jobs and skills summit will this week work towards addressing Australia’s overall labour shortage but solving that complex crisis within mining will require urgent industry-wide collaboration, according to the leaders.

Over 250,000 people are employed across the mining value chain, making it one of the largest employment industries in the country.

Australia leads the world in exploration and extraction and there is absolutely no reason why it cannot lead in new recruitment strategies as well, the leaders say.

Among those taking part in the IMARC conference is Debbie Smith, National Mining Leader of PWC Australia, who says there is a lot more governments could do to diversify towns like Gladstone, in Queensland, to make them more than just mining towns. This will help attract long-term residents to these areas who are looking to escape the expensive capital cities.

“COVID-19 has had a lot of people assessing work life balance and the importance of family,” Smith said. “We learnt how much can be done from people’s home and there is no reason why those homes cannot be in regional Australia.”

With businesses across Australia currently experiencing financial pressure associated with inflation, supply chain disruptions and the after-effects of border closures, radical reform is required.

Ian Wells, Chief Financial Officer at Fortescue Metals Group, who will also be speaking at IMARC, says due to the tight labour market in Australia, coupled with difficulties in accessing international workers, the industry as a whole is struggling to attract and retain workers.
Fortescue has invested heavily in local talent, including through the Billion Opportunities program which has invested over A$4 billion ($2.7 billion) into Aboriginal businesses since 2011.

Wells says “when the mining industry is strong, all Australians benefit”, with the Western Australian resources sector contributing A$100 billion directly to the national economy in financial year 2022-21.

“The mining sector is a great place to work with many opportunities, and, while our sector is committed to training and developing Australians to be part of the workforce of the future, current acute skills shortages means we must look beyond our borders for additional workers,” he said.

“As an industry, we must and can do more to build on our commitment to developing a diverse workforce that is reflective of society and to foster a workplace culture that truly embraces diversity and inclusiveness. We believe that diversity has been key to our success and we remain strongly committed to increasing female and Aboriginal employment across the business.”

IMARC’s Director of Conference Content & Strategy, Sherene Asnasyous, says the forum in November will provide a crucial platform for conversations about the next steps towards an essential increase in recruitment and retention across the industry.

“IMARC will allow global leaders and emerging game-changers from the entire mining value chain the unique opportunity to come together under one roof and tackle not only the skills shortage but other urgent challenges facing the industry right now including the energy transition, rising costs, social performance and diversity within the resources sector,” she said.

With over 450 speakers across six concurrent conferences covering global opportunities, industry collaboration, the energy transition, investment, innovation and more, IMARC is the most significant in-person gathering of Australian and international mining and resources representatives in almost three years, the organisers says. It will be held on November 2-4 at the Sydney International Convention Centre.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC

IMDEX’s BLAST DOG to receive first commercial runout at Iron Bridge

Mining support technology, BLAST DOG, which was developed in Australia by IMDEX Limited, is set to be used at the Iron Bridge Operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia under a new three-year agreement.

Iron Bridge is an unincorporated joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Iron Bridge and Formosa Steel IB, with the agreement being the first commercial application of IMDEX’s BLAST DOG.

The agreement provides for the staged utilisation of BLAST DOGs, which IMDEX estimates will generate revenue of A$13 million ($9.2 million) over the initial term.

The BLAST DOG is a commodity-agnostic blasthole sensing and physical measurement technology that is semi-autonomously deployed for logging material properties and blasthole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said this contract win was a defining moment for IMDEX.

“This is homegrown technology designed to provide meaningful, quantifiable benefits for the mining industry,” House said.

“We are not aware of any other technology that has the capacity to produce the same quantity and quality of pre-blast rock data and provide as large an impact on downstream processes.”

“The commercial success of BLAST DOG reflected in today’s announcement is a credit to IMDEX’s R&D team and their drive to make a difference in the mining industry.”

IMDEX Chief Geoscientist, Dave Lawie, said the company overcame many obstacles, including mine access issues caused by COVID-19, to deliver the BLAST DOG project in Australia and the Americas.

“Today’s announcement is exciting because we know what BLAST DOG can produce,” Lawie said.

“It is recognition for five years of intense effort spanning the USA, Queensland, Western Australia and Chile in conjunction with our METS Ignited project partners.

“In addition to the work for the Iron Bridge joint venture, we are involved in ongoing, pre-commercial trials across various operations in Australia, Canada and Chile.”

IMDEX’s BLAST DOG provides material physical property measurements prior to blasthole drilling to inform decisions regarding blasting, screening, blending and stockpiling, among others, before these materials are subject to processing. These properties form the inputs to a tactical approach to ore characterisation and processing, IMDEX says.

Possible benefits offered by IMDEX’s BLAST DOG include the ability of mining companies to develop programs which:

  • Optimise explosive selection and costs;
  • Improve fragmentation;
  • Improve material and grade control;
  • Reduce geotechnical risk;
  • Detect voids;
  • Define ore boundaries and prevent ore waste dilution; and
  • Reduce fume, flyrock, vibration, air-blast and dust.

The BLAST DOG contract capped off a year in which IMDEX delivered record revenue, record earnings and continued margin expansion.

It reported record revenue of $341.8 million, a 29.3% increase on the same time last year; alongside record EBITDA of A$104.9 million, an increase of 38.9% on last year; and net profit after tax of A$44.7 million, up 41% on last year.

Monadelphous banks Australia work with FMG, Rio Tinto, Roy Hill and BMA

Engineering company Monadelphous Group Limited says it has secured new contracts and contract extensions in the resources and infrastructure sectors totalling approximately A$220 million ($150 million).

Within this is a number of contracts for work in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, including:

  • A five-year contract to provide maintenance, repairs, general shutdown services and minor projects across Fortescue Metals Group’s Pilbara operations;
  • A multi-disciplinary contract with Rio Tinto for the construction of a new conveyor at the Tom Price iron ore mine, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023; and
  • A contract associated with the construction of a pipeline and access road at the Roy Hill Mine site. The work is expected to be completed towards the end of 2022.

In Queensland, Monadelphous has also secured a 12-month extension to its existing contract with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance for the provision of dragline shutdown and maintenance services to its operations in the Bowen Basin.

Schlam to supply Fortescue with new Hercules EXO truck body

Schlam says it has been awarded a multi-million-dollar supply agreement with Fortescue Metals Group Limited for both its products (Schlam Payload Solutions) and services (Schlam People Solutions) divisions.

The contract will see Schlam Payload Solutions supply Fortescue with dump bodies and buckets – including the company’s newly-released Hercules EXO – while Schlam People Solutions will provide skilled on-site mechanical and fabrication services for a minimum of three years with options to extend, it said.

The agreement solidifies Schlam’s decade-long relationship with Fortescue, the company added.

Schlam Chief Executive Officer Matt Thomas said that he expected the agreement’s value to reach over A$90 million ($62.7 million).

“Fortescue will be one of the first operators to receive the Hercules EXO since its successful trial and market release,” Thomas said. “The Hercules EXO is a 240-t-class iron ore specific dump body that is 20% lighter than the company’s already class-leading Hercules. The decreased weight gives miners a greater payload potential, while a complete redesign and innovative material selection have resulted in a 100% increase in service life.”

Thomas added: “Like Schlam, Fortescue is a proud and innovative West Australian company. This relationship strengthened when we trialled a Hercules dump body suited to their fleet of 240-t-class trucks in 2018. At the time, it was the lightest 240-t body we had manufactured and, through working with innovative partners, like Fortescue, we’ve been able to develop the next generation of payload products, including the Hercules EXO.”

To date, Schlam has supplied almost 60 Hercules bodies to Fortescue’s fleet of mining trucks and will deliver a further 50 in the next financial year alone.

The agreement brings Schlam Payload Solutions and Schlam People Solutions under the same set of terms and conditions. The latter expands Schlam’s portfolio of Tier-1 clientele, for which it supplies heavy-duty mechanics, boilermakers, auto-electricians and other skilled labour.

“The agreement will underpin our journey to introduce the latest robotic technology to transform our manufacturing processes and develop a state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing facility right here in Western Australia,” Thomas said.

Fortescue looks to ‘accelerate and support’ mine decarbonisation with WAE buy

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.”

Fortescue, FFI and Progress Rail collaborate on battery-electric loco deployment

Fortescue says it is continuing to progress the decarbonisation of its locomotive fleet with the purchase of two new battery-electric locomotives from Progress Rail to transport its iron ore to port in Western Australia.

The new eight-axle locomotives will have an energy capacity of 14.5 MWh and will be manufactured at the Progress Rail facility in Sete Lagoas, Brazil.

Fortescue, in December, said it was planning to test locomotives powered solely on green ammonia and other green renewable fuels and technologies at its rail operations in 2022, with two four-stroke locomotives arriving at Fortescue Future Industries’ Hazelmere facility, in Western Australia. These locos will undergo further testing on the new fuel system, joining other two-stroke locomotives which underwent testing earlier in 2021.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said on the latest developments: “The purchase of these new battery-powered locomotives marks an important milestone in the decarbonisation of Fortescue’s locomotive fleet and demonstrates our commitment to achieving carbon neutrality for Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, as we diversify from a pure-play iron ore producer to a green renewables and resources company.

“The new locomotives will cut our emissions while also reducing our fuel costs and our overall operational expense through lower maintenance spend.

“The acquisition builds on the work being carried out by Fortescue Future Industries’ Green Team in Hazelmere to deliver locomotives operating solely on green ammonia and other green renewable fuels and technologies.”

Fortescue is expected to take delivery of its first battery-powered locomotive in 2023.

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) Chief Executive Officer, Julie Shuttleworth, added: “FFI is a key enabler of Fortescue’s decarbonisation strategy. Our Green Team has made outstanding progress in their mission to transform Fortescue’s trains, trucks, ships and other mobile equipment to operate on zero pollution fuels as soon as possible, and the purchase of these new battery-powered locomotives complements this work.

“Fortescue and FFI are working together to demonstrate that renewables can power the energy needs of Australia’s mining and resources sector.”

Marty Haycraft, President & CEO of Progress Rail, a Caterpillar Company, said: “We are pleased to be working with the Fortescue team to determine the application, feasibility and suitability of battery-electric technology for deployment on their railway and to manufacture two of our BE14.5BB locomotives for this important project.

“We look forward to continuing to support our global customers with innovative products and services to help them meet their sustainability goals.”