17/01/2022 - 13:45

Electric overhaul for iron ore rail

17/01/2022 - 13:45

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BHP plans to acquire and trial four battery electric locomotives for its iron ore rail network in WA, following suit from fellow mining giants.

Electric overhaul for iron ore rail
Photo: BHP

BHP plans to acquire and trial four battery electric locomotives for its iron ore rail network in WA, following suit from fellow mining giants. 

The Big Australian is set to trial the locomotives’ performance and emissions reduction capabilities in delivering iron ore from its Pilbara mines to the Port Hedland export facility when they arrive in 2023.

Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group both announced formalised plans in recent weeks to use electric locomotives in their iron ore operations.

Two of BHP's locomotives have been supplied from Progress Rail - BHP’s current provide - with the remaining from New York Stock Exchange-listed Wabtec Corporation.

Progress Rail - a Caterpillar company - is also providing locomotives to Fortescue, while Rio has opted to use Wabtec.

BHP eventually plans to switch to predominantly battery electric power for its 180-strong locomotive fleet.

A fully-laden BHP WA iron ore train typically comprises four diesel-electric locomotives pulling approximately 270 cars carrying a total of 38,000 tons of iron ore.

BHP asset president for WA iron ore Brandon Craig said he was pleased the company could play a role in developing new solutions for a cleaner future.

“Rail is the fundamental link in our pit-to-port value chain, and the power required to deliver fully-laden iron ore wagons from the Pilbara to Port Hedland is significant,” Mr Craig said in a statement.

“Trialling battery-electric locomotives in collaboration with Progress Rail and Wabtec has great potential to support our operational emissions reductions targets and goals.”

BHP shares are down 1.14 per cent to trade at $46.15.

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