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Rio Tinto purchases 4 Wabtec battery-electric locomotives for the Pilbara

Rio Tinto will purchase four 7MWh FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives (earlier post) from Wabtec Corporation for use in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as part of the company’s strategy to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. Production of the units is due to commence in the United States in 2023 ahead of initial trials in the Pilbara in early 2024.

The locomotives, which will haul ore from the company’s mines to its ports, will be recharged at purpose-built charging stations at the port or mine. They will also be capable of generating additional energy while in transit through a regenerative braking system which takes energy from the train and uses it to recharge the onboard batteries.

A full transition to net-zero emissions technology of its entire fleet of rail locomotives would reduce Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s diesel-related carbon emissions in the Pilbara by around 30% annually.

Rio Tinto Managing Director of Port, Rail and Core Services Richard Cohen said delivery of the prototype locomotives will be an important early step for the company on the path toward a decarbonized Pilbara.

Once delivered, the locomotives will be trialed within controlled environments in the Pilbara and tested against a range of safety and functional criteria, including integration with AutoHaul.


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