Aussie miner Roy Hill acquires new mode of mining transport

Australian mining company Roy Hill purchases Watbec’s battery-electric locomotive to help transport iron ore output while reducing its carbon footprint

Australian miner Roy Hill has become the first buyer of Watbec’s new FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive, hoping its investment can drive forward the reduction of its carbon footprint and improve the transportation capabilities to and from its mining operations. 

The locomotive boasts a 7MW/h energy capacity, something Roy Hill is keen to acquire in an effort to increase its company’s overall efficiency. Relying heavily on a 344km iron ore mining railroad located in the Pilbara region (Western Australia) approximately 840 miles north of Perth, Roy Hill’s locomotive acquisition promises a massive reduction in cost and emissions.

“Our analysis with Wabtec confirms the FLXdrive locomotive is ideally suited for our rail network,” says General Manager of Engineering for Roy Hill, Simon Pascoe. “It has the horsepower to operate in a heavy-haul train consist pulling loaded wagons with 35,000 tonnes of iron ore, while at the same time reducing the entire train’s fuel consumption. The FLXdrive also is designed to function in the extreme heat of the Pilbara region.”

Sustainable, maintainable locomotive welcomed into Australian mining

The FLXdrive is due to replace one of the four diesel-electrics Roy Hill currently operates, offering the sustainable recharge alternative of regenerative braking and an appealing liquid cooling system to battle Pilbara’s oppressive heat. 

CEO of Roy Hill, Gerhard Veldsman, is optimistic that the acquisition of the locomotive signals a change in the companies choices in automation, shifting from outdated vehicles to more modern, sustainable, and maintainable assets.

“We are committed to transforming the next generation of transportation by adopting advanced technologies that improve energy efficiency, lower operating costs, and improve our rail and mining network.

“The FLXdrive locomotive will be the first for the region and the first for the mining industry and will improve our rail operations from the mine to Port Hedland.”

Acquisition bodes well for the future of Watbec’s business

Roy Hill is eager to adopt Watbec’s innovation into its own practices and the successful acquisition of the locomotive bodes well for the future of Watbec’s sustainable endeavours. Presently, the company is evaluating the possibility of developing hydrogen-fueled locomotives as yet another substitution in place of high-polluting mining transportation. 

“The FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive is a bold step toward a low-to-zero-emission locomotive future,” Rogerio Mendonca, President of freight equipment at Watbec, says. “We continue working on solutions that cut the overall carbon footprint of the industries we serve through the development of low-emitting locomotives like the FLXdrive, and the use of alternative fuels such as biodiesel, renewable diesel and hydrogen.”

Roy Hill is set to receive its locomotive purchase in 2023.


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