Lithium powered bus steers energy transformation at Pilbara Minerals

Lithium battery powered bus arrives at Pilbara Minerals’ lithium mine.
Lithium battery powered bus arrives at Pilbara Minerals’ lithium mine.

A 100% electric bus transported its first passengers from the airport to Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora operation in WA’s northwest region today.

The new bus, developed in partnership with local Port Hedland business Northfleet, is the first 100% electric major permanent mobile equipment to operate at Pilbara Minerals’ lithium mine, replacing a diesel fuelled bus that is estimated to have used approximately 12,000L of diesel every year.

The bus is understood to be the first electric bus to operate in the East Pilbara.

Pilbara Minerals managing director and chief executive Dale Henderson welcomes the new addition to the site.

“As a leading producer of lithium battery raw materials, we are committed to supporting the global energy transition and this includes at our own operations,” he said.

“Innovation and new technologies have always been a part of the Pilbara Minerals story and the use of electric vehicles at our site is another step along this journey.

“We have had a long-standing relationship with local business Northfleet and we are proud to be partnering with them on this initiative.”

Northfleet general manager James Staples says Northfleet and the Pilbara Minerals team have been working closely on electric vehicle solutions.

“We are very excited to see our bus take is maiden voyage and would like to thank Pilbara Minerals for their long standing and continued support of local Pilbara business and innovation,” he said.

As an electric vehicle powered by a lithium-ion battery, the bus is significantly quieter than traditional vehicles, making it more comfortable for passengers during the 30-minute journey from the airport to site.

The bus will power up at a new charging station connected to the onsite power supply supplemented by Pilgangoora’s 6MW solar farm.

The bus has the capacity to fully charge from flat in less than 1.5hrs with a range of up to 450km, enough for make multiple trips to Wodgina Airport and back to the Pilbara Minerals village.

The bus adds to the transition of the light and heavy-duty vehicle fleet at Pilbara Minerals’ operation to reduce emissions and operating costs while optimising productivity.

Also adding to this transition will be a lithium-battery powered concrete truck. The truck is currently being trialled at the Pilgangoora lithium mine by Holcim and Foton to confirm the vehicle can operate in remote and arid conditions.