Global mining companies are increasingly turning to renewables to power operations with landmark projects in Australia including Juwi’s Sandfire DeGrussa mine making headlines. Given mines have a limited life span, are in remote, off-grid locations and have vast areas of land nearby, solar and wind power is an obvious choice.
Now French power company Engie and mining giant Anglo American have announced a partnership to develop the world’s first hydrogen powered mining haul truck.
Renewables generation and battery assets can be used to source electricity to power mining operations but a significant chunk of the carbon emissions generated by mining companies comes from the diesel consumed by giant, 300-ton capacity haul trucks.
Anglo American has pledged to fully decarbonize its operations and plans to integrate a hydrogen generation solution provided by Engie into its trucks. The miner will modify vehicles by replacing diesel with hydrogen tanks and replacing engines with hydrogen fuel cells and battery packs.
“We are delighted to join forces with Anglo American to design the first solution that aims to decarbonize heavy-duty mobility in the mining sector,” said Michèle Azalbert, CEO of Engie’s hydrogen business unit. “This is part of Engie’s strategy to develop industrial scale hydrogen-based solutions to help our energy-intensive customers in their journey to carbon neutrality.”
The first hydrogen trucks are set to be moving next year. A testing and validation phase will be conducted at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena Platinum Group Metals mine in South Africa before the project is scaled up. Solar arrays at mining sites will power electrolyzers for hydrogen production.
A few weeks ago, Anglo American announced it had installed an 86 kW floating PV array at one of its copper mines in Chile. The use of floating PV on the mine’s water reservoir significantly reduces evaporation losses. The use of hydrogen trucks in underground mines could also lead to significantly lower ventilation costs, adding value for the mining company.