ENGIE: As a carbon neutral, local and flexible source of energy, green hydrogen has aroused the interest of the mining industry

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Can green hydrogen significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the mining industry? Yes, because it can be used as a fuel for heavy goods vehicles, as an energy source to produce “hydrogen-electricity” to power production processes and as a raw material for the manufacture of explosives. It has aroused the interest of the mining industry for all these reasons, and ENGIE is strategically placed to advise and support industry players. Here we explain everything to you, focusing on some ongoing projects.

Metals play an essential role in the energy transition. They are used in wind turbine blades, solar panels, and electric car batteries, not to mention consumer electronics. The rise of renewable energy sources and battery-powered devices is increasing the global consumption of metals. For the mining industry, this means growing demand. This is why the sector wishes to move towards sustainable and carbon-free processes, to legitimately support the energy transition.

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Mobility, the driving force behind the deployment of hydrogen

Today, the mining industry aims to use green hydrogen as a carbon-free fuel for its heavy-duty vehicles, such as mining haul trucks and trains. This is not surprising when you consider that a single truck consumes 3,000 liters of diesel per day, and that there are almost 50,000 in circulation around the world.

But the appeal of green hydrogen for mining companies goes beyond the promise of carbon-free mobility. In reality, Koen Langie, Senior Hydrogen Developer and Head of Mining Program at ENGIE, believes “it will increase the productivity of the sector because hydrogen fuel cell technology is more reliable than combustion engine technology for intensive 24/7 use.

A source of energy and a raw material: multi-use hydrogen

The impact of hydrogen is potentially much greater. Stored locally and used as and when required, this gas opens up the field of possibilities: the resulting electricity can be used to power production processes based on minerals, generate quality heat, etc. And, as a raw material, green hydrogen can help make “decarbonized” explosives, which can then be used in mining operations.

Thus, hydrogen can help improve the energy autonomy of mining sites. Producing hydrogen on or near mines is therefore a determining factor for an industry that often operates in remote places, in countries with good access to renewable energies, such as solar in Chile, China, Mexico, in Australia, South Africa, etc.

The pilot project phase

Large mining companies and other value chain players are currently running pilot projects around the world. Our Group acts as a catalyst by bringing these new solutions to the market.

Concretely, this means designing the right hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen tanks for heavy vehicles. Another important factor is the establishment of efficient green hydrogen supply networks, to make production costs competitive with fossil fuels.

Koen Langie expects a hydrogen powered mining haul truck to be deployed during this decade: “The main challenge is to integrate the technology into the vehicle, ensuring that manufacturers adapt their platforms to support this new type of engine and ultimately supply mining haul trucks with fuel cells to integrated hydrogen. I would say that we can start offering this solution to mining companies between 2025 and 2030.

ENGIE supports large mining companies

1. The first hydrogen mining transport truck with Anglo American

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Since 2020, we have been working with Anglo American to develop the first hydrogen powered mining haul truck (300 tons) and will provide hydrogen production solutions using solar power generated at the mine site. A testing and validation program will be carried out at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena Platinum Group Metals in South Africa, prior to deployment to the company’s other mines.

2. A mining transport train in Chile

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In Chile, we are carrying out the Hydra project in consortium with the Australian company Mining3, Mitsui & Co Inc, Thiess, Ballard Power Systems, Hexagon Purus, Reborn Electric Motors, and with the financial support of the Chilean Economic Development Agency. We are co-developing the prototype of a mining transport train powered by 100-200 kW hydrogen fuel cells, to completely replace diesel. The objective is to test the prototype in situ, in particular conditions – high altitude – to assess its performance. Launched in 2021, the project will play a key role in defining international standards for the use of hydrogen in mining trains.

3. Green hydrogen with Liebherr

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In September 2021, we partnered with Liebherr. By combining our expertise with that of one of the world’s largest construction and mining equipment manufacturers, we will evaluate hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels to decarbonize mining equipment. The aim is to offer carbon neutral hydrogen solutions for the entire logistics chain.

4. Using hydrogen to make green ammonia

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Mobility is not the mining industry’s only application for hydrogen. The HyEX project, also in Chile and carried out in collaboration with the manufacturer Enaex, manufactures ammonium nitrates – used in the explosives production process – from green hydrogen.

Disclaimer

Engie SA published this content on 21 October 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on October 21, 2021 05:33:04 PM UTC.

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