Mining3 and ENGIE have established the Hydra Consortium which is working on utilising a hydrogen fuel cell-based powertrain for heavy-duty mobility within the mining sector. This will enable heavy-duty mining mobile equipment to run on renewable hydrogen, displacing diesel, helping to decarbonise the mining sector.
To achieve this target, several workstreams will be executed, amongst others a pre-feasibility and engineering study of a powertrain and the renewable hydrogen value chain.
This includes designing, manufacturing and testing of a 200-kilowatt fuel cell plus battery powertrain prototype under mining conditions (altitude, dust, temperature, etc.).
The test outcomes will provide valuable information to optimise the overarching design that could replace the traditional diesel powertrain.
In addition, the project will support government entities, in Chile and beyond, by establishing safety protocols for hydrogen use at scale within the mining industry, which will be critical for the successful deployment of the hydrogen solution.
Finally, the project will complete the competitiveness analysis for validation of the business case, determining whether Consortium members could consider a scale-up of the solution.
In August 2020, the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO), was the first to support the project, by awarding it with CLP 252 million (approximately AU$435,000) in government funding to Mining3 in partnership with CSIRO Chile.
Since then, Mitsui & Co. (USA) Inc. and Thiess, both active in the mining sector, have provided additional support as part of their commitment to develop sustainable solutions for decarbonising the resources industry. Several technology companies are also contributing, each within their areas of expertise.
CEO of Mining3, Professor Paul Lever, commented: “We are looking forward to working with project participants to develop this important transformative solution for the mining industry, as well as open doors to new applications and processes necessary for a carbon-neutral future.”
CEO of ENGIE’s Hydrogen Business Unit, Michele Azalbert, added: “We are pleased to be part of this powerful collaboration that brings the vast expertise of its members to decarbonise the mining industry. Renewable hydrogen can provide the flexibility that the mining sector needs. Beyond the obvious advantage of being emissions-free, hydrogen solutions offer an economically viable alternative to fossil fuels, while ensuring the operational performance of mining operations.”
The consortium extends an open invitation to other mining companies, technology providers and governments to join and grow the development activities within this field.