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Anglo American and Aurizon study hydrogen trains

13th December 2021

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Freight operator Aurizon and mining major Anglo American will undertake a joint feasibility study to assess the introduction of hydrogen-powered trains for bulk freight.

Aurizon and Anglo American have entered into an agreement to conduct the feasibility study that will explore the application of Anglo American’s proprietary hydrogen fuel cell and battery hybrid power units in heavy haul freight rail operations. If the feasibility study is successful, the agreement between the two companies could be extended to further phases of collaboration, which could include detailed engineering and the development of a hydrogen fuelled heavy haul locomotive prototype.

Aurizon said on Monday that the feasibility study will focus on the potential deployment of Anglo American’s hydrogen power technology on Aurizon’s Moura rail corridor that operates between Anglo American’s Dawson metallurgical coal mine and the Gladstone Port, and the Mount Isa rail corridor that operates between the North West Minerals Province to Townsville Port, via Aurizon’s Stuart Terminal.

As part of its commitment to carbon neutral mines by 2040, Anglo American has taken a global lead in the development of green hydrogen solutions for its ultra-class 290 t payload mine haul trucking fleet. The company’s combination of powertrain technologies, designed to operate safely and effectively in real-world mine conditions, will displace the use of the majority of diesel at its mining operations, with an advanced trial of the prototype truck at its Mogalakwena platinum group metals mine in South Africa.

“Hydrogen offers enormous opportunity in decarbonising and continuing to improve the competitiveness of Australia’s export supply chains,” Aurizon MD and CEO Andrew Harding said.

“This is especially true for bulk products underpinning the Australian economy including minerals, agricultural products and fertilisers, industrials and general freight.

“Zero-carbon hydrogen-powered trains would also significantly boost the current environmental benefits of transporting more of Australia’s bulk freight on rail. Rail freight already produces up to 16 times less carbon pollution per tonne kilometre than road.

“Aurizon is excited to be teaming up with Anglo American on this project, particularly given their success to date in developing unique technology solutions for use in mine haul fleets,” said Harding.

CEO of Anglo American in Australia, Tyler Mitchelson said the company has has committed to carbon neutral operations by 2040, and were aiming to reduce its Scope 3 emissions by 50% in the same timeframe.

“We know that we cannot achieve all of this alone, so we are working with partners along our value chains and outside our industry to find technical solutions to decarbonise.

“This collaboration with Aurizon is a great example of the power of partnerships to help address the urgent issue of climate change, while we also look to catalyse new markets to support the development and growth of the hydrogen economy,” he said.

Anglo American’s technical director, Tony O’Neill added that the agreement with Aurizon marks the first time the company’s hydrogen power technology could be tested beyond its existing mine haul truck programme.

“Displacing our use of diesel is critical to eliminating emissions at our sites and along our value chain. We believe that our innovative hydrogen-led technology provides a versatile solution, whether for trucks or trains or other forms of heavy duty transport.”

The North West Mineral Province contains about 75% of the Queensland’s base metal and minerals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold, cobalt and phosphate deposits. The province also has the potential to become a globally significant supplier of high-quality vanadium to the energy storage and steel markets with a number of projects under assessment.

The 180-km Moura rail corridor from Dawson to the Gladstone port, and the 977 km Mt Isa rail corridor from Mt Isa to Townsville Port both currently use diesel fuelled locomotives.


Queensland’s Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles welcomed the joint feasibility study.

“The feasibility study will focus on the potential deployment of Anglo American’s hydrogen power technology on Aurizon’s Moura rail corridor and also the Mount Isa Rail corridor.

“The announcement is more proof that Queensland is committed to capturing every section of the renewable energy value chain.” 

Miles said Queensland is perfectly positioned to be the world’s renewable energy superpower.

“This project is more proof of that future. Where we use cheaper cleaner energy to power Queenslander’s lives and to make the equipment the world needs as we move towards more decarbonisation,” he said. 

“Imagine new economy minerals which can be used to make batteries to store renewable energy, being moved from the North West Minerals Province to Townsville, on a train powered by hydrogen made from Queensland sunshine.”

Minister for Energy Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the project showed yet again the way renewable energy and the burgeoning hydrogen industry meant more jobs in more industries for more Queenslanders.

“Projects like this are important because they enable domestic demand and create an ecosystem for green hydrogen,” Mr de Brenni said.

“Transport accounts for 14% of emissions, and is the fastest growing sector for emissions. However, we recognise that transport can lead the emissions reduction push if we move quickly with initiatives like this one.

“The government welcomes today’s announcement as it is making sure Queenslanders and local businesses are at the front of the queue building the skills needed for the hydrogen industry and the thousands of jobs it will create.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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