More than 120 skilled jobs are set to be created as part of an Australian mining company’s plans for expansion in Oxfordshire.

Australian iron ore giant Fortescue announced it will be opening a new state of the art battery facility in Banbury which will provide highly skilled jobs and boost the UK’s electric vehicle supply chain.

Earlier this year, the Australian billionaire and founder of the company, Andrew Forrest, announced he would be opening an advanced battery plant in Kidlington which will open later this year and create up to 300 new jobs.

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The new Banbury site, which will open in 2024, will cover over 13,500 m2 in total and will lead to the employment of over 120 highly skilled engineers, technicians, apprentices, and graduates.

Business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch is expected to visit one of Fortescue’s factories later today and will meet engineers.

Oxford Mail: Kemi BadenochKemi Badenoch

She said: “Fortescue’s investment in Oxford shows how this government is creating the right conditions to encourage cutting-edge advanced manufacturing companies to invest in the UK.

"This new state-of-the-art site will bolster the UK's electric vehicle supply chain and create over 120 highly skilled jobs, helping to grow our economy."

Following Brexit, the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement was signed and this came into force on May 31 this year.

The agreement eliminates tariffs on over 99 per cent of Australian goods exports to the UK.

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At the new Banbury site, the focus will be creating a wide range of zero emission products for the off-road sector, including trucks and trains.

Mr Forrest said the expansion in Oxfordshire was part of the company’s commitment to grow its British presence through the integration of British manufacturers WAE.

He said: “With Fortescue’s investment, British engineering will be at the cutting edge of the green energy economy with WAE’s battery systems providing world leading technology to the entire global industrial sector.

“It is heartening to have the UK’s trade secretary today at our factory in Oxfordshire to support this message of British technology excellence for both its people and its highly attractive working environment.”

Mr Forrest purchased WAE last year and it was technical offshoot of Formula 1 team Williams.

The announcement is likely to be seen as a win for the government’s free trade agenda and to be presented as a benefit of Brexit.

The UK’s Free Trade Agreement with Australia had a focus on next generation manufacturing and the expansion will be seen as vital for meeting the growing global demand for advanced electrification technology solutions to the off-highway sector.

The factory will focus primarily on manufacturing of heavy industry and zero emission powertrain systems.

The first prototype build is targeted for July/August 2023, with the first mining haul truck module due for completion in August 2023.

A hiring campaign has started and interested applicants have been advised to apply via Forescue’s website.