The world’s largest hydrogen electric truck is already working in a South African mine

The UK-based mining multinational, Anglo-Americanhas presented in South Africa a prototype of which it is the world’s largest hydrogen powered electric mining truck. Your system generates 2MW of power and is capable of carrying a payload of 290 tons (320 tons if the total weight of the vehicle is counted). It will replace a fleet made up of 40 diesel vehicles each year they burn a million liters of fuel.

The project NuGenat the Anglo American-owned Mogalakwena mine, the world’s largest open-pit platinum group metals mine, will use power generated by a 140 MW solar plant. With it, the electrolysis processes necessary to divide the water molecules will be fed, separating the green hydrogen, which will be used to feed the fuel cell of these trucks.

The project will be fully implemented in 2026. This is the first step towards making the company’s eight mines carbon neutral by 2030, according to Julian Soles, Anglo American’s Head of Technology Development, Mining and Sustainability. The company, which mines metals around the world, from iron ore and platinum to copper, has set a goal of getting all of its operations to that status by 2040.

At the presentation of the project in the South African city of Polokwane, Soles recalled that three years ago a project like this seemed impossible to materialize: “Now, after Anglo American’s decision to continue with it, they are realizing that it is possible”.

electric mining truck fuel cell hydrogen-interior
The hydrogen trucks will replace a fleet of 40 diesel vehicles that burn one million liters of fuel each year.

An industry leader in South Africa for eight decades before moving its headquarters to London in 1999, the mining company initially approached several equipment manufacturers with the idea of ​​building a fleet of hydrogen-powered trucks. When his project was rejected, he made the decision to Convert your diesel fleet to hydrogen fuel cell trucks cleansed. to use clean fuel.

Approximately 80% of its diesel consumption is carried out at its mines through the use of large trucks. “We had to build was a complete ecosystem. A photovoltaic solar site, an electrolyser and a refueling system to create a zero-emission transport system”, adds Soles.

Anglo American’s truck fleet currently generates between 10% and 15% of so-called Scope 1 emissions, those generated directly from its own activities, explains Duncan Wanblad, CEO of Anglo American. The use of hydrogen does not emit greenhouse gases while diesel does. And since the water is split to create the fuel using the sun’s energy, there are also no carbon emissions from its manufacturing process.

The trucks are equipped with various fuel cells delivering up to 800 kW of power and that include platinum in its components. A 1.2 MWh intermediate battery pack It is responsible for powering the electric motors.

It’s a smart step for Anglo American, but it’s a big step for South Africa’s hydrogen economy,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a speech at the mine during the NuGen program launch event. “The hydrogen economy is calling us,” he said.

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