Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Corporation are joining forces to explore the construction of a hydrogen pilot plant at Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone.
Yarwun produces more than three million tonnes of alumina per year, which is exported to customers in Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific region.
With hydrogen being considered more and more important in the decarbonisation of the mining industry, the hydrogen pilot plant will assist Rio Tinto’s ultimate goals for emission reduction.
Rio Tinto Australia chief executive Kellie Parker said the hydrogen plant further solidifies their rapport with Sumitomo.
“Rio Tinto has a long relationship with Sumitomo and we are delighted to partner with them to explore the possibilities of hydrogen, not only for our own refinery, but for Sumitomo to supply industry more broadly in Gladstone,” she said.
“Reducing the carbon intensity of our alumina production will be key to meeting our 2030 and 2050 climate targets. There is clearly more work to be done, but partnerships and projects like this are an important part of helping us get there.”
Rio Tinto and Sumitomo have signed a letter of intent representing their commitment to the pilot plant. If the project proceeds, it would produce hydrogen for the recently-announced Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem.
Sumitomo Corporation’s Energy Innovation Initiative director Hajime Mori said he is buoyed by the prospects of the new pilot plant.
“We are excited about working together with Rio Tinto as our long-term partner to develop this hydrogen project in Gladstone and working toward our company’s vision of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050,” Mori said.
“Sumitomo has commenced the design study and preliminary master planning to build the Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem and we will continue to work towards future hydrogen exports from Gladstone.”
In March 2021, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed for the Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem, with a three-phased plan for its development commencing this year.
The Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem is striving towards a 2030 target for first hydrogen exports.