Roy Hill, the largest single iron ore mine in Australia, has purchased Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive, the world’s first 100% battery-electric, heavy-haul locomotive (earlier post) for the region and the mining industry.
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.—Gerhard Veldsman, CEO of Roy Hill
Roy Hill will receive the newest version of the FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive in 2023 with an energy capacity of 7 megawatt hours (MWh). It is an upgrade from the 2.4-MWh prototype that was successfully tested in revenue service with a Class 1 railroad in the United States earlier this year. (Earlier post.)
Based on the route and Roy Hill’s rail operations, the FLXdrive is anticipated to reduce the company’s fuel costs and emissions in percentage by double digits per train. The ongoing use of the FLXdrive will also reduce ongoing operational costs through maintenance spend.
Our analysis with Wabtec confirms the FLXdrive locomotive is ideally suited for our rail network. 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.—Simon Pascoe, General Manager of Engineering for Roy Hill
Today, Roy Hill uses four Wabtec ES44ACi Evolution Series diesel-electric locomotives in a consist to pull trains that are typically 2,700 meters (1.6 miles) in length. The FLXdrive will replace one of the diesel locomotives to form a hybrid consist, and recharge during the trip through regenerative braking.
The FLXdrive manages the overall train energy flow and distribution through its Trip Optimizer system, an intelligent cruise control system programmed through artificial intelligence to respond to every curve and grade of the track in the most energy-efficient way possible. It is also designed with a special liquid cooling system to withstand the Pilbara heat, where temperatures can reach 55 °C (130 °F).
Wabtec’s goal is to develop the next generation of zero-emission locomotives. The company has a clear path to power new locomotives—and repower existing locomotives—with batteries, hydrogen internal combustion engines, and hydrogen fuel cells. It is part of Wabtec’s vision for the rail industry to play a key role in building a clean energy economy and will enable the reduction of up to 300 million tons of global carbon emissions.
Situated 344km south east of Port Hedland in Western Australia’s mineral-rich Pilbara region, Roy Hill is an independent iron ore operation. With integrated mine, rail and port facilities producing more than 62 Mtpa, Roy Hill is one of the world’s major resource-based operations.