SPORT: The mining giant founded by Australia’s richest man is buying the battery and tech arm of the Williams Formula One racing team for $222.2 million.

Fortes­cue Met­als will acquire UK-based Williams Advanced Engi­neer­ing from pri­vate equi­ty firm EMK Cap­i­tal and Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

The deal aims to help the iron ore pro­duc­er reach its goal of being car­bon neu­tral by 2030.

“This announce­ment is the key to unlock­ing the for­mu­la to phase out fos­sil fuel-pow­ered machines and replace them with zero-car­bon tech­nol­o­gy,” Fortes­cue Founder and Chair­man Andrew For­rest said in a statement.

Mr For­rest, who has an esti­mat­ed net worth of more than $18bn (£13.3bn), is known for invest­ing in sus­tain­able ener­gy projects.

As part of the deal, Oxford­shire-based Williams Advanced Engi­neer­ing (WAE) will be inte­grat­ed into Fortes­cue’s clean ener­gy unit.

The Perth-based min­er said it plans to use WAE’s bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy to pow­er its freight trains, heavy indus­tri­al equip­ment and haul trucks.

Fortes­cue has been devel­op­ing a pro­to­type bat­tery for inten­sive indus­tri­al use since the begin­ning of last year.

Over the next decade, Mr. For­rest aims to trans­form the world’s fourth-largest pro­duc­er of iron ore into one of the world’s lead­ing pro­duc­ers of clean energy.

WAE, which bills itself as “a world-lead­ing tech­nol­o­gy and engi­neer­ing com­pa­ny”, was set up in 2010 by Grand Prix team Williams to devel­op low-car­bon tech­nol­o­gy for vehicles.

Pri­vate equi­ty firm EMK Cap­i­tal acquired a major­i­ty stake in the com­pa­ny just over two years ago.

Elec­tric F1 rac­ing is ‘sim­ply not pos­si­ble’
The move comes after out­go­ing Fed­er­a­tion Inter­na­tionale de l’Au­to­mo­bile (FIA) Pres­i­dent Jean Todt told the BBC that it would not be pos­si­ble for the sport to go elec­tric for decades, say­ing: “It’s just not possible.”

“In For­mu­la 1, a race dis­tance is around 200 miles (305 km). With­out recharg­ing, with the per­for­mance of cars, elec­tric­i­ty will not allow this,” he added.

“Maybe in 20 years, 30 years, I don’t know. But right now it would just be impossible.”

Sep­a­rate­ly last week, a com­pa­ny plan­ning mass pro­duc­tion of elec­tric car bat­ter­ies in the UK secured gov­ern­ment fund­ing for its fac­to­ry project in Northumberland.

British­volt announced plans for the so-called gigafac­to­ry in Cam­bois two years ago, say­ing it would cre­ate 3,000 jobs.

the gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted around £100m through its Auto­mo­tive Trans­for­ma­tion Fund.

British­volt also announced back­ing from investors Tri­tax and Abrn, which is expect­ed to unlock around £1.7 bil­lion in pri­vate funding.

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