Anglo American to establish pilot plant to convert haul trucks to hydrogen power

July 1, 2020

Anglo American Plc is advancing with plans that could see the company eventually converting more than 400 haul trucks from diesel fuel to hydrogen power.

Anglo American will establish a pilot project next year at its Mogalakwena openpit operation in South Africa. A 3.5-megawatt electrolyzer 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,” Jana Marais, a spokeswoman for Johannesburg-based company told Bloomberg. Anglo also uses the trucks in Australia and the Americas.

The mining industry is under increasing pressure from governments and investors 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 coal.

In June, Fortescue Metals Group announced a goal of being emissions-free from its operations by 2040.

Anglo has reiterated targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent over the next decade compared with a 2016 baseline, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Long-term goals include a net carbon-neutral business by 2040.

The hydrogen truck could cut emissions at Anglo American’s mines to zero, said Marais, without disclosing how much the company is investing in the initiative. The truck conversions will be carried out by Engie SA.

“We are developing a technology that we believe will set a new trajectory for zero emissions,” Marais said.

Truck makers are trying to commercialize 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.

For more information about Anglo American's project click here.

Photo: Anglo American’s trucks parked at the Sishen Mine in South Africa, courtesy of Anglo American.
 

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