Diversified miner Anglo American is in exclusive negotiations with specialist engineering technology company First Mode Holding and has agreed nonbinding terms to establish a combined business to accelerate the rollout of Anglo's nuGen hydrogen-powered Zero Emissions Haulage Solution (ZEHS).
The transaction with First Mode, which had partnered with Anglo and other companies to develop the nuGen ZEHS, will include a capital investment by Anglo in the combined business and is intended to accelerate the development and commercialisation of the nuGen ZEHS.
The new combined business will retain the First Mode name as an independent business and prioritise developing the nuGen ZEHS, building on three years of extensive development by Anglo and First Mode.
Anglo in May launched the prototype of its nuGen ZEHS hydrogen-powered mine haul truck at its Mogalakwena platinum-group metals mine.
Mining Weekly reported at the time that the 2 MW hydrogen-battery hybrid truck is the world's largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck. It is capable of carrying a 290 t payload and generates more power than its diesel predecessor.
The truck was designed to help Anglo meet its 2040 carbon emission goals.
Along with the truck, the partners had developed an entire ZEHS ecosystem to generate and store hydrogen at the Mogalakwena mine. This includes a 3.5 MW electrolyser, comprising two compressors, and hydrogen storage tanks with 800 kg of capacity at 500 bars of pressure.
The hydrogen is not converted to a liquid but stays in a gaseous state and is transported at a high pressure.
The hydrogen dispenser is capable of moving 4 kg of hydrogen a minute at 250 bars of pressure.
The agreement with First Mode envisages that Anglo will enter into an agreement with First Mode to decarbonise its global fleet of ultra-class mine haul trucks, of which about 400 are currently in operation, as well as provide critical supporting infrastructure such as refuelling, recharging and facilitation of hydrogen production.
Anglo plans to retrofit the mine haul trucks at all its operations to run on hydrogen. In May, it said it would convert 10 to 20 trucks a year, with the full fleet conversion expected to take three to four years to complete.
Anglo also recognises its role in supporting broader decarbonisation objectives outside its own business and says the technologies and capabilities that it has been developing as part of the nuGen project with First Mode present opportunities beyond its own haul truck fleet, including across other industries that rely on heavy-duty transport, such as rail.
In addition to accelerating the development and commercialisation of the ZEHS technology, the new combined business is expected to allow strategic third parties to co-invest in the business alongside Anglo and First Mode, offering the opportunity to accelerate their own decarbonisation and participate in the potential offered by the clean ZEHS technology.