Fortescue has taken a step on its carbon reduction journey, deploying a newly-completed electric excavator at its Cloudbreak mine site in an Australian first. 

Powered by a 6.6kV substation and more than 2km of high voltage trailing cable, this is the first of an initial three R 9400 E electric excavators being delivered by Liebherr, a German-Swiss equipment manufacturer, that will be commissioned over the next 12 months.

Fortescue has said that, as part of its aim to eliminate emissions across its mining operations, the intention is that all electrified mining equipment will eventually be powered by renewable energy.

Fortescue Metals CEO, Dino Otranto, said that the commissioning of this fully electric excavator is a massive achievement by the Fortescue team and that it is the first of its kind in Australia for the mining industry.  

“It’s a true demonstration of industry collaboration where we’ve been fortunate enough to work with industry experts who have been using trailing cable for decades, and then repurpose this in our own operations as part of our decarbonisation journey,” Mr Otranto said. 

“Already, our Chichester operations, which include Cloudbreak, run partially off solar, enabling this first excavator to be powered using renewable electricity. Once we decarbonise our electricity grid, all these excavators will be operating on renewable electricity in the future.”

Liebherr-Australia’s Managing Director, Mining, Trent Wehr, said that this R 9400 E excavator marks a significant milestone in Liebherr’s decarbonisation partnership with Fortescue.

“The debut of Australia’s first operational electric excavator is a big achievement for our local team who will provide ongoing service and support for these machines,” Mr Wehr said. 

“Our local teams are actively enhancing their skills to keep pace with the changes that accompany our expanding lineup of zero emission mining equipment, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.”

Featured image: The R 9400 E electric excavator. Image credit: Fortescue. 

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