Unveiled by South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday 6 May 2022 in Polokwane North of Johannesburg in the Limpopo province of South Africa, the World’s largest hydrogen-powered mining haul truck took to the haul roads on Anglo American‘s Mogalakwena Platinum mine. With this achievement, the mining company, Anglo American took the first step in its mission to achieve carbon neutrality on 8 of its mines globally by 2030. The nuGen™ hydrogen-battery hybrid 290 t class mining truck carried a 150t payload which was dumped on a stockpile in the presence of the President and Anglo Executives. In addition, Intellisense.io implemented the Stockpile and Inventory Optimization Application to track the material type from pit to stockpile which insured that Mogalakwena’s optimal mine planning and material processing was in place even during this prestigious event. This was a significant move for Anglo American and South Africa on their respective journeys down the path of a cleaner and greener future.
The Diesel mining haul truck was retrofitted with a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell providing roughly half of the power and a battery pack. The chosen production method for hydrogen is electrolysis which separates hydrogen from water. Renewable energy such as wind, hydropower, and solar energy can be used to power electrolysis so that it produces no emissions. The downside is that it’s expensive.
The retrofitted truck carries 68 kg of hydrogen (about 680 liters of water to produce). This amount will fuel the truck for roughly 1 to 2 shifts. The turnkey solution for decarbonization haulage provides a very low cost of ownership and challenges the dollar per tonne cost equivalent of diesel.
Decarbonization of the 28 000 trucks that are in the hands of open-pit mining companies around the world, roughly removes an impact of 150-million cars on the roads.
Iron ore manufacturers also said that they will be using this type of technology for processing, and no longer coking coal. The technology also has the potential to be used in the mineral extraction processes on mines, alongside technologies such as scientific AI, IIOT, and others to further drive Anglo’s agenda of net-zero mining operations.
All considering the only possible downside to the environment is the water usage of 10 l/kg. Whether this figure is substantial or not probably depends on the climate of the area which is being mined. There is no doubt that this type of technology is desperately needed in this day and age, and with the Digital Transformation of mining, this water usage can soon be offset through the use of, for example, Process Optimization Apps in the Mining Industry and improved ore beneficiation processes.
The irony has to be commended though. The launch of this technology took place on a mine that produces the same mineral that is needed in the production and storage thereof.