British-based technology and engineering firm Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) is to be acquired by Australian outfit Fortescue Metals Group for £164 million.
WAE, founded in 2010 as an off-shoot of the late Frank Williams‘ eponymous Formula 1 team, provides engineering, technology and design to firms across the automotive, motorsport, aerosport and defence industries.
Its acquisition by Fortescue from previous shareholders Williams Grand Prix Engineering and EMK Capital “brings together leading thinkers and engineers into one organisation to drive progress and combat climate change, enabling Fortescue to become a major player in the growing global market for green industrial transport equipment”.
Fortescue Metals – one of the world’s largest iron ore producers – was founded by Australia’s richest man, Andrew Forrest, who said the two firms will now “work to decarbonise” Fortescue’s global operations, using WAE’s battery technology.
Fortescue aims to achieve net-zero carbon neutrality by 2030. Instrumental to this goal will be the introduction of cleaner propulsion systems for its 1.9-mile-long freight trains, 400-tonne quarry trucks and heavy plant machinery. The company’s mining fleet currently burns through 400-450 million litres of diesel per year.
WAE’s acquisition is part of Fortescue’s strategy to “acquire critical capabilities needed to help decarbonise this industry world-wide”. The BBC reports that one of the first projects planned as part of the deal is the development of a battery-electric train.
Fortescue and WAE have been working together for nearly a year to develop a battery for an electric mining truck – which could be instrumental in reducing emissions across the heavy industrial sector, which Fortescue says accounts for more than 20% of global carbon emissions.
Fortescue is also exploring the use of “green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia” as a means of enhancing the sustainability of its global fleet.