Anglo American has developed the world’s first 500-tonne green hydrogen-powered haulage truck and is currently trialling it for the first time since it revealed the prototype in May. The miner has reported that the trials of the zero-emission vehicle, the largest of its kind, are going well. So far, each trial on the truck has led to the hoped-for results.

The fully-loaded trials of the truck, called nuGen, included tipping into the crusher at the Limpopo-based Mogalakwena PGMs mine, which is owned by Anglo American Platinum.

Anglo’s update on hydrogen supply developments

Speaking at a 2022 sustainability performance presentation, Tony O’Neil, the group technical director of Anglo American, answered questions about how far it has gotten in terms of securing ways to supply hydrogen for the truck.

These included queries about whether Anglo had gotten any further with expanding its electrolyser, which it needs to produce the hydrogen that will power the truck.

O’Neil said the electrolyser has not been further expanded yet because it is not the main priority – Anglo first has to “sort out the commercials for [hydrogen] supply in the next six months” before moving on to jack up the electrolyser.

He stated that they have “been to market on commercials for gas but we also need to explore commercials around going liquid” (that is, they are considering the use of liquid hydrogen), and that the miner is currently in the middle of doing so. O’Neil explained that liquid hydrogen’s main benefit is that it requires less refuelling of the truck, which is why Anglo is considering it as an option.

Anglo American’s green focus

The nuGen is just one of the projects Anglo American has undertaken to create sustainability in its mines and operations. The miner is taking environmental protection seriously; its CE Duncan Wanblad has called climate change “the defining challenge of our time.”

In addition to its zero-emission hydrogen truck, other green projects Anglo is busy with its joint Envusa Energy clean power project.

This is a collaborative effort in Southern Africa with EDF Renewables to build a new clean energy infrastructure project with 3 GW to 5 GW of power capacity. This will enable Anglo to generate enough power for its operations and take some of the weight off public power grids.

Envusa Energy is currently in the first phase of the major project, and is presently working on developing 600 MW of solar and wind projects. Construction on these is set to start early in 2023.

Anglo American is progressing towards achieving its target of meeting a recognised responsible mining standard in its operations by 2025.

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