This is the world’s biggest hydrogen truck

Anglo-American Mining has put its first hydrogen-powered mining truck on duty. This zero-emission behemoth is poised to replace the mining giant’s diesel-powered fleet and kickstart an entire carbon-free ecosystem if the trial goes well.

The gargantuan dump truck, running on six tires the size of a bungalow, can transport 290 tons of ore and has joined the mining group’s fleet in Mogalakwena, South Africa. It’s located 250 kilometers from Johannesburg and is the world’s largest open-pit mine for platinum.

Hydrogen valley

The truck has a 1.2MWh battery pack and several fuel cells, developing 800kW of power, more than its equivalent running on diesel. CO2 emissions? Zero because the used hydrogen is green. Anglo American has collaborated with partners Engie (energy), Ballard (fuel cells), First Mode (creative engineering), and NPROXX (hydrogen storage) to materialize the project.

At the inauguration, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “What we are launching is not just an impressive piece of machinery, it is the genesis of a whole hydrogen-powered ecosystem.” That accounts for national plans, with South Africa readying a hydrogen valley in the region around Johannesburg, like those from Anglo American Mining. If the prototype proves its worth, the company wants to replace its entire diesel fleet with these hydrogen-powered dump trucks.

Net-zero in 2040

Anglo American Mining CEO Duncan Wanblad: “If this trial is successful, [they could] reduce diesel emissions from open-pit mines by up to 80% by extending this technology to their entire fleet worldwide.” His company operates in some 15 countries and has 25 sites in South Africa.

The truck is part of a green hydrogen system at the site called Zero Emission Hauling Solution (ZEHS). A nearby solar farm produces electricity for the electrolyzer producing the green hydrogen fuel used by the truck. By 2040 Anglo American wants to be net-zero, and by 2030 already, eight of its mines are scheduled to emit no carbon emissions, thanks to ZEHS.

With pantograph

To reduce CO2 emissions and fuel costs, mining companies have been betting for more than twenty years on trolley systems. Especially on the energy-intensive trajectory upwards from the mine pit, the loaded diesel truck switches to electric propulsion provided by an overhead trolley line system and a pantograph on the vehicle’s roof, just like a city tram. However, the operational costs of this solution are high, and it’s not emission-free like hydrogen.

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