From the introduction of the world’s first battery-electric locomotive to electrifying mining vehicles and the challenges faced by lithium mining prospects, this update provides a snapshot of the remarkable strides and challenges in these key sectors. Join us as we delve into the exciting world of electrification, sustainability, and mining advancements, exploring the latest trends and their potential implications on our journey towards a more environmentally responsible and technologically advanced future.


Wabtec and Roy Hill Complete First Battery-Electric Locomotive

American manufacturer Wabtec and Australian Iron Ore miner Roy Hill have unveiled the first battery-electric locomotive earmarked for the Pilbara. The FLXdrive is the world’s first Loco to rely solely on regenerative battery power. The battery will recharge while travelling 344 km downhill from the mine to the port facility, using kinetic braking energy and storing the charge for its run back to the mine.

The new power combination will see significant carbon emission reductions across Roy Hill’s rail fleet while lowering diesel use and operating costs. The FLX Drive’s battery will hold an impressive 7-megawatt hours of juice and is liquid-cooled to handle the Pilbara’s extreme heat. As the first heavy-haul loco of its kind, the FLXdrive signals a bright future for rail, according to Wabtec’s President and CEO Rafael Santana. “This FLXdrive locomotive represents a major step in the journey to a low-to-zero-emission future in the rail industry,” he said. “The FLXdrive is driven from within by our battery technology and the innovative spirit of our employees. Roy Hill is an ideal customer to partner with given their leadership and excellent operational record.” Once final battery installation is complete on the hot-pink, breast-cancer-aware loco, it will begin its 17,000 km journey to the red sands of Western Australia.


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IMARC Event Maintains an Electrified Focus

The International Mining and Resources Conference has kicked off in Sydney, with some of the world’s top miners speaking out on electrification, automation and artificial intelligence (AI). While we’ve just looked at the decarbonisation of rail, mining haul trucks and even light vehicles remain big on-site carbon emitters. According to Fortescue’s CEO, Dino Otranto, however, the industry has made significant strides in finally leaving diesel in the dust by applying lessons learned in other areas. “The offsets from diesel have been far greater than anyone could have predicted,” Mr Otranto said. “The DC-DC charging station was the innovation breakthrough required to charge haulage trucks in under 20 minutes, which the motor racing industry has been doing for years,” he added. The electrification of mining vehicles also bodes well for safety and cost in underground environments, removing the need for elaborate ventilation systems. Additional benefits include removing diesel exhaust fumes and heavy, hot and noisy machinery from peopled work areas. Another IMARC hot topic is the arrival of thousands of electric four-wheel drive vehicles equipped with smart software into the Australian mining sector. Irish firm CoolPlanet revealed plans to extend its partnership with Australia’s Climatech Zero to offer electrified Toyota LandCruisers to the local mining industry. The two companies predict that more than 6000 low-emission vehicles could be used by 2026.


Liontown Moves On After Failed Albermarle Deal

Liontown Resources, one of Australia’s hottest Lithium prospects, has announced a $45 million capital raise after its takeover by Albermarl was torpedoed by Gina Rinehart. Liontown has now returned to the market for funding to help with its lithium ambitions. Sadly for the firm, its shares are on offer for $1.80 per unit, a big tumble from Albermalre’s $3.00 per share offering. Liontown will put the funds raised in the Share Purchase Plan towards: Refinancing the Ford facility plus capitalised interest Attaining the remaining capital costs for Kathleen Valley, including early mine development and acceleration Costs associated with building the pre-production run of mine stockpiles Corporate costs and working capital (including capitalised interest and fees) Providing prudent liquidity through to first production and beyond. After Albermarle’s withdrew its initial $6.6 billion offer, there has been speculation that Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting will make a takeover offer after steadily increasing their shareholdings to 19.9 per cent during the due diligence period. However, a bid for Liontown is yet to materialise.


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