Hydrogen rail on the Aurizon for Anglo

Anglo

A hydrogen-fuelled engine being installed in an Anglo American mine haul truck. Image: Anglo American.

Aurizon and Anglo American are investigating hydrogen-powered bulk freight trains to create more sustainable supply chains in mining.

As Australia’s largest rail freight company and one of the country’s largest miners, respectively, the two companies saw mutual benefits in the agreement to reach their decarbonisation goals.

A feasibility study will consider using Anglo American’s hydrogen power technology – already in use for its ultra-class 290 tonne haul truck fleet – on Aurizon’s Moura (180 kilometres) and Mount Isa (977 kilometres) rail corridors in Queensland.

This technology includes hydrogen fuel cell and battery hybrid power units.

The Moura and Mount Isa lines run from Anglo’s Dawson metallurgical coal mine and the Gladstone Port, and the North West Minerals Province to Townsville Port, respectively.

Aurizon managing director and chief executive officer Andrew Harding said this was the next step in rail freight technology.

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

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

Rail freight already produces up to 16 times less carbon emissions per tonne per kilometre than road, according to Harding, but Aurizon wants more.

“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,” Harding said.

Anglo American has publicly stated its goal of making its mining operations carbon neutral by 2040, with Scope 3 emissions to be halved by then.

Anglo American chief executive officer in Australia Tyler Mitchelson said working together with other industry leaders would be key to achieving these goals.

“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,” Mitchelson said.

“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 technical director Tony O’Neill recognised the significance of the agreement for the miner, as it dived outside its usual four walls.

“Our agreement with Aurizon marks the first time our hydrogen power technology could be tested beyond our existing mine haul truck programme,” O’Neill said.

“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.”

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