Fortescue deploys Australia’s first operational electric excavator with the Liebherr R 9400 E

  • Liebherr-Australia recently commissioned an R 9400 E electric excavator for Fortescue at its Cloudbreak mine site in Western Australia
  • The excavator is one of an initial three units that will be delivered to Fortescue over the next 12 months
  • Liebherr’s electric excavators provide a zero emission mining solution, depending on the energy source of the site’s electricity grid

Liebherr-Australia commissioned an R 9400 E 400-tonne electric excavator for Fortescue at their Cloudbreak iron ore mining operation in Western Australia. This excavator represents the first newly built operational electric excavator in the country. The R 9400 E backhoe excavator is equipped with the Liebherr cable reeler, enabling increased maneuvrability and optimised safety on site.

Australia’s first newly built electric excavator is now operational at Fortescue’s Cloudbreak mine site, marking a significant milestone in Fortescue’s decarbonisation journey.

Powered by a 6.6kV substation and more than two kilometres of high voltage trailing cable, this is the first of an initial three R 9400 E electric excavators that Liebherr will deliver to Fortescue over the next 12 months.

The R 9400 E is equipped with the Liebherr cable reeler. This automated and hydraulically driven solution enables management of the excavator’s electric cable during operation. The Liebherr cable reeler offers better mobility of the machine, optimises safety, and reduces the number of crew required for cable handling.

Committed to a decarbonised future

The delivery of electric excavators demonstrates Liebherr’s and Fortescue’s strong commitment to decarbonising heavy industry. Liebherr Mining has committed to offering fossil fuel free solutions for its digging, hauling, and dozing equipment by 2030, through its Zero Emission Mining Program. Liebherr Mining has extensive experience with electric-drive excavators, having offered the solution to its customers for over 40 years. Fortescue has committed to eliminate emissions across its mining operations, with all electrified mining equipment eventually powered by renewable energy.

“The commissioning of this fully electric excavator is a massive achievement by the team and is the first of its kind in Australia for the mining industry,” said Fortescue Metals Chief Executive Officer, Dino Otranto. “It’s a true demonstration of industry collaboration where we’ve been fortunate enough to work with industry experts who have been using trailing cable for decades, and then repurpose this in our own operations as part of our decarbonisation journey. Already, our Chichester operations which include Cloudbreak run partially off solar enabling this first excavator to be powered using renewable electricity. Once we decarbonise our electricity grid, all these excavators will be operating on renewable electricity in the future.”

Liebherr-Australia’s Managing Director, Mining, Trent Wehr, continued “This R 9400 E excavator marks a significant milestone, with our decarbonisation partnership with Fortescue now extending to electric excavators. The debut of Australia’s first operational electric excavator is a big achievement for our local team who will provide ongoing service and support for these machines. Our local teams are actively enhancing their skills to keep pace with the changes that accompany our expanding lineup of zero emission mining equipment, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.”