PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Iron-ore major Fortescue Metals has struck a £164-million deal to acquire UK-based technology and engineering services business Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE).
WAE is an offshoot of the Williams F1 team and is renowned for its ground-breaking projects in high performance battery systems and electrification.
WAE will bring its race-bred critical battery technology to Fortescue’s green energy arm, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), which will in turn enable Fortescue to realise its 2030 net-zero target. The two companies will work together to help bring green energy to life in Fortescue’s 3-km-long freight trains, 400 t haul trucks and industrial heavy mobile equipment.
Fortescue said in a statement on Monday that one of the first major projects to be developed will be a world leading battery electric train concept, with further details of this design expected later this year.
This partnership will also enable Fortescue to become a major player in the growing global market for green industrial transport equipment, the company told shareholders.
“This is the race of our lifetimes – the race to save the planet from cooking. The speed at which we move matters,” said Fortescue founder and chairperson Andrew Forrest.
“Together FFI and WAE will work to decarbonise Fortescue, with the aim of achieving that faster and more effectively than anyone else in the world. This is an historic moment in the future of our company as we welcome the WAE family into the Fortescue family to work together to decarbonise heavy industry and hard to abate sectors for the good of our planet, and the benefit of our shareholders.
“This announcement is the key to unlocking the formula for removing fossil fuel powered machinery and replacing it with zero carbon emission technology, powered by FFI green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.”
Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines said on Monday that Fortescue and WAE share strong cultural alignment with a focus on technology and innovation to support carbon neutrality, both companies being leaders in their respective industries.
“We have been working with WAE since early 2021, with WAE designing and building a battery system to power an electric mining haul truck; an important first step in the decarbonisation of Fortescue’s mining haul fleet. WAE’s expertise in battery systems and electrification further complements FFI’s green hydrogen projects for haul trucks and mobile fleet to further underpin our technical leadership.
“We look forward to working together to apply this technology-first strategy to our emissions reduction pathway while also empowering the highly capable WAE team to achieve growth opportunities in new products, services and markets,” Gaines said.
FFI CEO Julie Shuttleworth said the acquisition of WAE adds cutting-edge technology, intellectual property and engineering capabilities to support and accelerate FFI’s Green Fleet technology pathway.
“Rapid growth of WAE’s world-leading technology and engineering business and an expansion of its manufacturing footprint further enhances FFI’s position to become a major player in the global market for decarbonisation of the global heavy industry sector.
“Under Fortescue’s ownership, WAE will continue to service its customers while rapidly expanding its battery and electrification technologies, engineering and manufacturing offerings.
“Joining the Fortescue Family will also allow WAE to invest in new technologies and to further commercialise world leading electrification products in new markets. It is also an opportunity to continue to grow the Williams family vision of creating cutting edge technology operating at the forefront of innovation in engineering and business,” Shuttleworth said.