Anglo American is advancing plans to convert its fleet of giant diesel-fuelled mine trucks to hydrogen power as the company seeks to burnish its green credentials.
More than 400 mine-haul trucks could be rebuilt to use hydrogen fuel, with a pilot project starting next year at Anglo American Platinum’s open-pit Mogalakwena operation in South Africa. A 3.5MW electrolyser will produce hydrogen on site, while the trucks will also be fitted with a platinum catalyst.
“Should the technology prove to be successful, it could be rolled out to the entire Anglo American fleet,” said Jana Marais, a spokeswoman for Johannesburg-based Amplats. Anglo also uses the trucks in Australia and the Americas.
Anglo and its global mining peers are under increasing pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve their environmental performance. The company plans to divest its thermal coal assets in South Africa over the next three years as investors demand that miners exit the world’s dirtiest fuel.
Anglo has reiterated targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% over the next decade compared to a 2016 baseline. Long-term goals include a net carbon-neutral business by 2040.
The hydrogen truck could cut emissions at Anglo’s mines to zero, said Marais, without disclosing how much the company is investing in the initiative. Engie is providing the hydrogen generation and refuelling system, she said..
“We are developing a technology that we believe will set a new trajectory for zero emissions,” Marais said.
Truck makers are trying to commercialise hydrogen technology that’s been in development for two decades, but has been held back by prohibitive costs and a lack of infrastructure. While the vast majority of heavy-duty rigs are powered by diesel engines, manufacturers and parts suppliers have stepped up development of alternatives to comply with stricter emission rules. — Reported by Felix Njini, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP