With the official launch of the world’s largest zero-emission vehicle today in South Africa by Anglo American at their Mogalakwena mine site, a truck that previously consumed nearly 1,000 gallons of diesel per day will now be fueled by green hydrogen produced on site using solar energy, and will emit nothing more than water vapor and warm water as it moves payloads of up to 300 metric tons up and out of the open pit mine.

Jonathan Gitlin of Ars Technica reports on the vehicle’s launch:

Mining will always be an inherently anti-environment activity to some degree due to the whole “digging stuff out of the ground” thing. But mining companies are a part of society, and as society as a whole looks for ways to decarbonize, so too does the mining industry.

In South Africa, mining company Anglo American wants to set an example at its platinum mine in Mogalakwena, which has become home to one of the world’s largest electric vehicles—a 210-metric-ton (463,000-lb) truck powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The nuGen haul truck started life as a Komatsu 930E with a diesel-electric powertrain, in which a 16-cylinder engine acted as a generator to power the truck’s electric traction motors. Now, that diesel engine is gone, and the haul truck’s traction motors are powered by eight 100 kW hydrogen fuel cell modules from Ballard and a lithium-ion battery pack from Williams Advanced Engineering capable of outputting 1.1 MW, integrated by First Mode in Seattle.

“At First Mode, we know we are at a ‘fire-everything’ moment. The urgency in front of us requires that we deploy every tool and every technology to battle climate change,” said Chris Voorhees, president and CEO of First Mode. “I’m so proud of the team and our partnership with Anglo American, focused on decarbonization at the source to effect the meaningful, necessary change we all seek. We hope that this zero-emission clean energy breakthrough will inspire others to create significant action in the fight for our planet.”

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