JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Diversified mining company Anglo American hopes to have a truck running on hydrogen in the next 12 months, Anglo American technical director Tony O’Neill said on Wednesday, when he spoke of foreseeing the company’s installed diesel fleet one day being replaced by an electrical alternative.
To test the departure from the use of carbon fuels in the operations, O’Neill disclosed during Anglo’s yearly sustainability presentation, covered by Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online, how power had been sufficiently oversized to provide hydrogen for use in mining vehicles.
A graphic displayed during the presentation, hosted by Anglo CE Mark Cutifani, showed solar panels providing electricity for hydrogen used by haul trucks, highlighting the delivery of enduring value through the transformational use of renewable energy.
The approach was to produce hydrogen with excess photovoltaic power and then allow that hydrogen to be consumed in trucks. This provides energy security, price resilience, lower greenhouse gas emissions, a move to the hydrogen economy using the next generation of mining vehicles and an opportunity for community participation.
“We looked at the trucks and re-engineered the way they work and found that all of a sudden we could get 5% to 10% more out of them,” said O’Neill in outlining Anglo’s intent to create a smart energy mix that allows it to be carbon neutral and have an entirely different footprint.
“And that leads us straight to hydrogen,” he added.
“I think it’s actually the key to unlocking the industry. With that in mind, we’re starting to work out how we get the technology to fit the business model. We can see a pathway through that and our aim is to get, hopefully in the next 12 months, a truck running around using hydrogen,” he said.
During question time, O’Neill spoke of the “absolute trend" towards electrification of mining.
“I can see the day coming when our installed diesel fleet gets replaced by electricity. So, then you come back to the power source and I go back to my earlier hydrogen story. I think the world is missing a trick with hydrogen. Everyone is focused on cars and for the life of me you’re introducing a mobility issue into the whole equation. Why people aren't focusing on the generation of baseload power is beyond me because that’s where the game really is made,” he said.
London- and Johannesburg-listed Anglo, which has become a formal supporter of the Task Force for Climate Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD), is aligning with TCFD recommendations, which require companies to test their resilience in quantitative terms regarding their impact on climate change, including their contribution to not exceeding a 2° temperature increase.
The company has halved its coal footprint in the last five years and does not intend acquiring additional thermal coal assets.