Anglo American presented the the largest hydrogen truck in the world in a platinum mine in northeastern South Africa, where it intends to replace a fleet of 40 diesel-powered vehicles that each consume around one million liters of this fossil fuel per year.
The NuGen project at the Mogalakwena mine, owned by Anglo American Platinum subsidiary, will use energy from a solar power plant to power a hydrogen electrolyser which will split the water and supply hydrogen to the trucks, which they can carry up to 315 tonnes of ore each.
The project, which is expected to be fully implemented in 2026, is a first step towards making eight of the company’s mines carbon neutral by 2030, according to Julian Soles, director of technology development, mining and sustainability at Anglo American.
The company, which mines metals around the world, from iron ore and platinum to copper, has set a goal of bringing all of its operations to that status by 2040.
People told us three years ago that it wouldn’t happen, that it wasn’t a good idea. Now they are beginning to realize the truth. Our vision is for this to extend across our entire business and the mining industry. It’s Anglo’s decision whether to release it or not.
The mining company, which dominated South Africa’s economy for eight decades before moving its headquarters to London in 1999, first approached several OEMs with the idea of building a fleet of hydrogen trucks. Being rejected, he made the decision to convert his diesel fleet to use his own clean fuel.
About 80% of our diesel consumption at our large mines is due to the use of large trucks. What we really needed to build was a complete ecosystem. A photovoltaic solar site, an electrolyser and a refueling system to create a zero-emission transport system.
The use of hydrogen does not emit greenhouse gases, unlike diesel. And since the water is split to create the fuel using energy from the sun, there are no carbon emissions in its manufacturing process either.
Trucks are equipped with fuel cells that contain platinum in their components. Mogalakwena is the largest surface mine of platinum group metals in the world.
Anglo and its mining colleagues around the world are under increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve their environmental performance. The company last year divested its thermal coal assets in South Africa, while rivals such as Glencore pledged to cut emissions.