Anglo American hydrogen mining truck

Anglo American’s Komatsu mining dump truck. Photo: Anglo American

Anglo American’s ‘green’ mining truck will be world’s largest electric vehicle

South African mining company Anglo American has its sights firmly set on creating the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mining truck

Anglo American hydrogen mining truck

Anglo American’s Komatsu mining dump truck. Photo: Anglo American

If things go according to plan, mining company Anglo American hopes to reduce its global greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. Achieving this may also see them get into the record books for the world’s largest electric vehicle. 

They’re busy developing a new Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV): An ultra-class electrically powered mining haul truck, which will be the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mining truck.

Anglo-American: Innovation-led approach to sustainable mining

This ambitious new project is part of Anglo American’s innovation-led approach to sustainable mining, FutureSmart Mining, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major sustainability challenges.

The mining company is partnering with companies such as with energy-efficient technology and engineering services company Williams Advanced Engineering and French multinational electric utility company ENGIE, who will develop and fuel this hydrogen-powered mine haul truck. 

According to Anglo American, this collaboration marks the first time a truck of this size and load capacity has been converted to run on hydrogen.

Mining machinery ‘revolution’

Set to revolutionise mining machinery, the FCEV haul truck will be powered by a hydrogen Fuel Cell Module paired with a scalable high-power modular lithium-ion battery system. This remarkable arrangement, which replaces the existing vehicle’s diesel engine, is controlled by a high-voltage power distribution unit delivering in excess of 1 000 kWh of energy storage.

“First motion” of the hydrogen-powered truck is expected later in 2020, followed by a testing and validation programme at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals mine in South Africa. 

Once this phase is completed, the trucks will be deployed to other Anglo American operations. 

Performance of hydrogen-powered truck to match diesel ones

According to Anglo American, the operational performance of the converted trucks is expected to be the same or better than the original diesel trucks, with the additional benefits of cleaner air, less noise and lower maintenance costs.

Anglo American technology development head Julian Soles said it’s history in the making:

“We have a longstanding commitment as a leader in responsible mining, with numerous examples of our progressive business decisions across many decades and we look forward to working with Williams Advanced Engineering to deliver this important step-change technology, a true world first for a vehicle of this size and load capacity.”

While it stands to be the largest electric vehicle in the world, the FCEV isn’t the only way mining companies and other organisations can be environmentally friendly. Using electrified vehicles — from large haul trucks to passenger vehicles and employee buses — are some of the steps that contribute to decarbonisation.