Fortescue Metals Group has agreed to acquire Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), a UK-based provider of high-performance battery and electrification technologies, from EMK Capital and Williams Grand Prix Engineering for £164m.

Post-acquisition, Williams Advanced Engineering will be integrated vertically into Fortescue’s diversified resources and green energy business.

It will be managed through Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), the green energy and green technology unit of Fortescue Metals.

Since early 2021, Fortescue Metals is said to have closely worked with Williams Advanced Engineering for designing and developing a prototype battery system to power an electric mining haul truck.

The acquisition of the UK-based firm is expected to give critical technology and expertise for Fortescue Metals in high-performance battery systems and electrification.

It will also help the Australian iron ore company expedite and support the decarbonisation of its mining activities apart from setting up an important new business growth opportunity.

Fortescue Metals founder and chairman Andrew Forrest AO said: “This is a major milestone in the future of our Company as we welcome WAE to the Fortescue family.

“FFI and WAE will work together to decarbonise Fortescue – and in turn the global heavy industry and hard to abate sectors – for the good of our planet, and the benefit of our shareholders.

“Today’s announcement builds on our commitment to remove fossil fuel powered machinery from our operations and to replace it with zero carbon emission technology, powered by FFI green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.”

The two firms plan to build battery electric solutions for Fortescue Metals’ mobile haul fleet, rail, and other heavy mining equipment.

The solutions are expected to speed up the quick abatement of diesel usage to achieve the decarbonisation of the Australian firm’s mining operations by the end of this decade.

Additionally, the two firms will work together to expand Williams Advanced Engineering’s green technology and engineering business.

The first of the major projects to be developed by the firms will be a battery electric train concept for which further details are expected to be announced shortly.

Williams Advanced Engineering CEO Craig Wilson said: “High performance battery and electrification systems are at the core of what we do at WAE and this acquisition and investment will facilitate the company’s further growth to support the delivery of zero emission products and services across existing sectors – such as automotive, motorsport and off-highway – and new sectors too.

“This will benefit all of our stakeholders along with current and future customers who are very important to us.”

The deal, which is subject to the UK foreign investment approval and other customary conditions, is expected to close by the end of March 2022.

In another development, Fortescue Metals has signed a memorandum of understanding with Sinosteel to assess the latter’s Midwest magnetite project in Western Australia.

The assessment will include a rail and port development planned at Oakajee.