Australian giant Fortescue has unveiled a £19 million innovation centre in Kidlington, Oxfordshire.
The fourth-largest iron ore producer in the world says the facility will be home to 300 highly skilled workers, with up to 50 more jobs to be created across the next year.
It adds to a pledge to create more than 1,000 jobs across its Oxfordshire sites.
The Kidlington facility will focus on the technical development, testing and prototype production of batteries and zero emission powertrains for a wide range of applications, including motorsports, mining haul trucks, and other off-road and automotive applications.
The site will exclusively develop and produce batteries for the first generation of Extreme H, a new motorsports series beginning in February 2025.
Fortescue WAE is already the battery provider for the Extreme E Series, and the Extreme H car will retain the same powertrain and chassis used in Extreme E, with one key differentiating factor: a hydrogen fuel cell combined with a smaller battery will replace the larger battery as the principal energy source.
“This new technical innovation centre in Kidlington will not only drive the leading edge of decarbonised motorsports, but also lead the way to decarbonising heavy industry as well,” said Fortescue executive chairman and founder Dr Andrew Forrest.
“Fortescue bought Britain’s best racing battery maker not only to help decarbonise our own operations, but to help other businesses to adopt zero emission technologies as well, and cement UK as a green technology and manufacturing leader.”
Among the first batteries produced at the Kidlington site will be those used to power Fortescue’s prototype 240 tonne mining haul trucks in Australia.
The battery system, which is currently being tested onsite in the thinly populated dry Pilbara region in Western Australia, is integral to Fortescue’s$6.2 billion decarbonisation strategy to help eliminate fossil fuels from its terrestrial iron ore operations, which includes replacing its existing diesel-fuelled fleet with battery electric and green hydrogen powered haul trucks.
The Kidlington site is co-located on the Oxford Technology Park and will have the capacity to produce and test up to 500 prototype battery systems per year with a total production capacity of 50 MWh/annum.