BHP joins the party on electric locomotives

19 January, 2022

Western Australia will be the fourth major miner to improve rail decarbonisation efforts thanks to 4 new battery-electric locomotives. Two of the locomotives will be provided by Progress Rail, BHP’s current manufacturer and Caterpillar company. Wabtec will also provide two of its own FLXdrive locomotives.

BHP will investigate energy recapture technology on downhill slopes and each locomotive with be eight axle, 14.5-megawatt-hour units

The 4 locomotives are set to be delivered by 2023.

BHP is focussing on total electrification of its iron ore rail fleet. This is located between its Pilbara mines and the Port Hedland export facility. It entails more than 180 locomotives.

Brandon Craig is the BHP asset president for Western Australian Iron Ore (WAIO). He said it was an important move to secure the company’s 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,” Craig said.

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

A full transition to battery- electric locomotives should reduce carbon emissions by about 30%. According to BHP group procurement officer James Agar, this is just the beginning.

“By working with two global leaders in Progress Rail and Wabtec, we can broaden the scope of our trials. We will also be better informed as we prepare for the planned replacement of our diesel-powered iron ore rail fleet,” Agar said.

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