Anglo American unveils a prototype of the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck

A VITAL STEP TOWARDS REDUCING CARBON EMISSIONS OVER TIME

Anglo American plc (“Anglo American”) unveils a prototype of the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck designed to operate in everyday mining conditions at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine in South Africa.

The 2MW hydrogen-battery hybrid truck, generating more power than its diesel predecessor and capable of carrying a 290-tonne payload, is part of Anglo American’s nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution (ZEHS). nuGen™ provides a fully integrated green hydrogen system, consisting of production, fuelling and haulage system, with green hydrogen to be produced at the mine site.

nuGen™ is part of FutureSmart Mining™, Anglo American’s innovation-led approach to sustainable mining – which brings together technology and digitalisation to drive sustainability outcomes, including our commitment to carbon-neutrality across our operations by 2040.

Duncan Wanblad, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “nuGen™ is a tangible demonstration of our FutureSmart Mining™ programme changing the future of our industry. With diesel emissions from our haul truck fleet accounting for c.10-15% of our total Scope 1 emissions, this is an important step on our pathway to carbon neutral operations by 2040. The mining industry is playing a considerable role in helping the world decarbonise, both through our own emissions footprint and the metals and minerals that we produce that are critical to low carbon energy and transport systems.

“Over the next several years, we envisage converting or replacing our current fleet of diesel-powered trucks with this zero-emission haulage system, fuelled with green hydrogen. If this pilot is successful, we could remove up to 80% of diesel emissions at our open pit mines by rolling this technology across our global fleet.”

Tony O’Neill, Technical Director of Anglo American, commented: “We are incredibly proud of what our team, working with expert partners, has achieved in under three years. This is truly a world-class innovation and bears testament to our technical vision and determination to deliver a cleaner and smarter future for mining.

“It is these game-changing innovations that are exactly why we began our FutureSmart Mining™ journey in 2014, knowing how much of a difference we can make, including in the energy transition and across our societal footprint. Innovative, clean and independent power systems, such as our nuGen™ ZEHS project, offer a significant part of the emissions solution.”

Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American Platinum, said: “PGMs play an essential catalytic role in many clean-air technologies, including related to hydrogen production and hydrogen-fuelled transportation. As part of our market development work, we have for some years been working towards establishing the right ecosystem to successfully develop, scale up and deploy hydrogen-fuelled solutions.

“Hydrogen has a significant and wide-ranging role to play in achieving a low carbon future – particularly as an energy carrier enabling the development of a renewables-based power generation system. We are particularly excited about the potential of nuGen™, amongst other opportunities, as we work to champion the development of South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley.”

Anglo American has been a longstanding champion of the potential offered by the hydrogen economy, recognising its role in enabling the shift to greener energy and cleaner transport. The hydrogen economy provides an opportunity to create new engines of economic activity. With a combination of abundant renewable energy sources (i.e. solar and wind), and as the world’s largest producer of PGMs, hydrogen is a strategic priority for South Africa and presents a significant opportunity for economic development, including the creation of new jobs and the development of the PGMs sector, while also contributing to South Africa’s decarbonisation objectives.

Sébastien Arbola, Executive Vice President in charge of Thermal Generation, Hydrogen and Energy Supply at ENGIE said: “At ENGIE, we realise the importance of green hydrogen in the decarbonisation of heavy-duty mobility, and we are dedicated to helping industry players accomplish their carbon neutrality goals. We are delighted to partner with Anglo American to provide renewable hydrogen for their proof of concept. Through this partnership, we aim to unlock the potential of green hydrogen in South Africa and pave the way for the decarbonisation of the mining industry. “

South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley

In South Africa, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the South African National Development Institute (SANEDI), in partnership with Anglo American, Bambili Energy, and ENGIE, are looking into opportunities to create a Hydrogen Valley. The proposed hydrogen valley will stretch approximately 835 kilometres from the platinum group metals-rich Bushveld geological area in Limpopo province, along the industrial and commercial corridor to Johannesburg and to the south coast at Durban. The nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution is one of the first projects for South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley.

A feasibility study for South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley published in October 2021 identifies three hubs – Johannesburg, extending to Rustenburg and Pretoria; Durban, encompassing the city itself and Richards Bay; and Limpopo province centred around Anglo American’s Mogalakwena PGMs mine – with a fundamental role to play in integrating hydrogen into South Africa’s economy, and in establishing South Africa and its abundant renewable energy resources as a strategically important centre for green hydrogen production. Nine key pilot projects have also been identified across these hubs and are recommended to be prioritised by developers. They span the transport, industrial, and construction sectors.

A world first developed by Anglo American with its partners

For the nuGen™ project, Anglo American has worked with some of the world’s leading creative engineering and technology companies, such as ENGIE, First Mode, Ballard and NPROXX, to: 

  • Design, build, and test a 1.2MWh battery pack, as the haul truck system uses multiple fuel cells that deliver up to 800kW of power, combining to deliver a total of 2MW of power.
  • Design and implement a software solution to safely manage power and energy between the fuel cells, batteries, and vehicle drivetrain.
  • Develop the power management and battery systems from the ground up, enabling us to tailor the system to each mine and improve overall efficiency by designing in energy recovery as the haul trucks travel downhill through regenerative braking.  
  • Build a hydrogen production, storage, and refuelling complex at Mogalakwena that incorporates the largest electrolyser in Africa and a solar plant to support the operation of the haul truck.  

“The impact of our nuGen™ project goes far beyond our operations. We believe that the emerging hydrogen sector has the potential to dramatically improve the growth and development of many economies by creating new industrial value chains and economic generation opportunities. Growing the hydrogen economy will revolutionise not just Anglo American’s operations, but all mining and many other industries – and ultimately shape a better, cleaner world,” concluded Wanblad.

You can learn more about Anglo American’s nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution (ZEHS) here: https://southafrica.angloamerican.com/our-difference/futuresmart-mining/nugen

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Government, private sector collaborate to build SA’s Hydrogen Platinum Valley

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is collaborating with companies in the energy sector to carry out a feasibility study for the establishment of a Platinum Valley. The collaboration agreement is led by DSI, partnering with Anglo American, energy and services company ENGIE, and clean energy solutions provider Bambili Energy. The feasibility study, which is the first phase of the Platinum Valley initiative, will drive the planning, design, construction and commissioning of projects related to the development of a Hydrogen Valley.

The project will be implemented through the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), which will also fund projects to take intellectual property through the Hydrogen SA (HySA) centres of competence to market in partnership with the private sector.

“The study will support plans to create a Hydrogen Valley along the Bushveld complex and larger region stretching from Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum mine near Mokopane to Johannesburg and Durban,” DSI explained.

The study aims to identify tangible opportunities to build hydrogen hubs in this key economic and transport corridor, leveraging the regional platinum group metals (PGMs) mining industry and exploring the potential for hydrogen production and supply at scale. 

“PGMs play an important role in polymer electrolyte membrane electrolysis used to produce hydrogen, as well as in hydrogen fuel cells,” DSI explained.

The DSI said the agreement has the potential of creating direct opportunities for economic and community development while contributing to decarbonisation efforts.

Meanwhile, the department believes that science, technology and innovation will play a key role in supporting the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan for South Africa. 

The Hydrogen Valley is one of the first projects that will be implemented in partnership with the private sector to support the Platinum Valley initiative. 

In addition, small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) will be supported to take advantage of opportunities in the green economy as part of the just transition to a green economy.

“The aim is to boost economic growth and job creation, drive the development of new industries, increase value-add to the country’s platinum reserves, and reduce the country’s carbon footprint.”

Also, hydrogen and fuel cells offer several advantages to the transport sector – comparable refuelling times to internal combustion engine vehicles, longer ranges and space efficiency.

Anglo American is deemed as one of the leaders in initiatives to promote the adoption of hydrogen fuel cells vehicles for commercial use, facilitating the creation of consortiums of industry partners to promote the development of hydrogen freight corridors in the United Kingdom, South Africa and China, among others. 

Anglo American’s PGM business CEO, Natascha Viljoen, said: “The transition to a low-carbon world is an opportunity to drive the development of cleaner technologies, create new industries and employment, and improve people’s lives”.

She said the company was an early supporter of the global potential for a hydrogen economy, recognising its role in enabling the shift to greener energy and cleaner transport.

“Our integrated approach includes investing in new technologies, supporting entrepreneurial projects and advocating for policy frameworks that enable a supportive long-term investment environment for hydrogen to deliver that potential,” she added.

Meanwhile, the department said Bambili Energy has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the HySA catalyst and membrane electrode assemblies developed by the HySA Catalysis centre of competence are integrated into commercial products through its partnership with global original equipment manufacturers. 

ENGIE, a French company, aims to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy through reduced energy consumption and more environmentally friendly solutions.

It has provided co-funding for the techno-economic analysis that will be conducted on identified hubs within the Hydrogen Valley corridor. 

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