Lithium battery powered bus drives energy transition at Pilbara Minerals

11 June 2024

An electric bus, developed in partnership with local Port Hedland business Northfleet, arrived at Pilbara Minerals’ lithium operation today where it transported its first passengers from the airport to site.

The new bus is the first piece of major permanent mobile equipment that is 100% electric to operate at the Company’s lithium mine, replacing a diesel fueled bus that is estimated to have used approximately 12,000 litres of diesel every year.

The bus is understood to be the first electric bus to operate in the East Pilbara bringing benefits of lower emissions as well as reducing maintenance and operating costs.

As an electric vehicle powered by a lithium-ion battery, the bus is also significantly quieter making it more comfortable for passengers on board for 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.

Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO Dale Henderson welcomed 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,” Dale 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 said Northfleet had been working closely with the Pilbara Minerals team on electric vehicle solutions over the last few years.

“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,” James said.

The bus has the capacity to fully charge from flat in less than 1.5 hours with a range of up to 450 kilometres, enough to make multiple return 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 optimise productivity.

A lithium-battery powered concrete truck is also being trialed at Pilgangoora by Holcim and Foton, to confirm the vehicle can operate in remote and arid conditions.