Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Three major miners jump on the electric train trend

Over the past fortnight, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and now BHP Group have announced that they will purchase electric trains to transport iron ore to Western Australia. The three companies will buy their electric locomotives from US-based Progress Rail or Webtech.

With mining and resource companies scrambling for the decarbonization pathway, three of the world’s biggest players have announced that they will be buying battery-electric engines from each other in quick succession.

On Monday, BHP Group announced it would purchase four battery-electric locomotives, two from Progress Rail, owned by mining and construction equipment giant Caterpillar, along with two others from WabTech Corporation.

Less than a week later, Rio Tinto announced that it would purchase four battery-electric trains from Wabtec which, like BHP, plans to use for its iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA). Is.

Fortescue Metals will purchase just two electric trains for its operations – possibly also in Western Australia, although the company did not specify.

A wave of announcements Gina Rinehart-controlled company Roy Hill announced that it had purchased Webtec’s FLXdrive battery-electric train with an energy capacity of 7 MW for its Pilbara operations in September 2021.

Three Major Miners Jump On The Electric Train Trend
Progress Rail tweeted this picture of its ‘BE14.5BB’ model, which it says has a capacity of 14.5 MW

Pragati Rail

The purchase of these initial trains marked the beginning of testing for all these miners with battery-electric locomotives, many of which flagged that they would also test ‘energy recovery’ opportunities.

Both BHP and Rio Tinto estimate that replacing their entire fleet of locomotives would reduce their carbon emissions in the Pilbara by about 30% annually.

BHP Progress to test both Rail and WebTech technology

Consistently topping the list of the world’s largest mining companies, BHP Group is hedging its bets by placing orders with both Progress Rail and Webtech. From Progress Rail, the company will receive two EMD Joule locomotives with a battery capacity of 14.5 MW. It will get two FLXdrive battery-electric engines from Wabtec.

With the four locomotives scheduled for delivery in late 2023, BHP said tests to be conducted with them will support the planned electrification of its iron ore fleet of more than 180 locomotives.

BHP Group Procurement Officer, James Egger, “By working with two global leaders in Pragati Rail and WebTech, we can broaden the scope of our trials and get better insights as we look at the planned deployment of our diesel-powered iron ore rail fleet.” Ready to replace.”, said.

Three Major Miners Jump On The Electric Train Trend
Webtec’S Flxdrive Battery-Electric Locomotive

The train will transport iron ore from BHP’s Pilbara mines to the Port Hedland export facility, testing the company’s performance and emissions reduction capabilities. According to the company, its fully-laden iron ore trains in WA typically include four diesel-electric locomotives, hauling about 270 cars carrying a total of 38,000 tons of iron ore.

,TeaBHP’s announcement said it will also test unique ‘energy recovery’ opportunities to further reduce the overall power demand for trains by harnessing the natural topography of the trial rail network. “On the way to port, locomotives can gain energy (energy that would otherwise be lost) from braking on downhill slopes and use it to help empty trains back up to the Pilbara.”

BHP has announced a partnership with Caterpillar and Komatsu to develop the first zero-emissions haul truck.

rio tinto

Like BHP and Roy Hill, Rio Tinto will buy Webtec’s 7MW FLXDrive battery-electric train. It is expected to begin its initial tests with the new engines in early 2024.

The company plans to recharge four of its new trains at charging stations located at the port or at its mining sites. Like BHP, it also seeks to generate additional energy while its trains are in transit via a regenerative braking system that takes energy from the train and uses it to recharge the onboard battery.


Fortescue has decided to go with Progress Rail’s train, which has almost twice the capacity of Webtec, which claims 14.5 MW. The two BE14.5BB locomotives will be manufactured at the Progress Rail facility in Sete Lagos, Brazil.

“The purchase of these new battery-powered engines is an important milestone … as we diversify from a pure iron ore producer to a green renewables and resources company,” said Elizabeth Gaines, CEO of Fortescue.

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Nation World News Desk
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