Rhae Adams, Chief Growth and Sustainability Officer at First Mode, authors an article in Global Mining Review to explore the pivotal role of decarbonizing haulage operations in achieving net-zero targets in the mining industry.
After showcasing their Proof of Concept haul truck at Anglo American’s platinum mine in South Africa, the truck – a retrofitted Komatsu 930E-4 – demonstrated after a year of successful trials that a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell and lithium-ion battery powertrain can effectively replace diesel engines in mining haul trucks. The use of hydrogen fuel cells not only addresses decarbonization by producing electricity without emitting carbon dioxide but also offers rapid refueling, enabling operational parity with diesel.
The article details the challenges and obstacles First Mode faced in designing the innovative powertrain, including volume management, thermal management, and parallelization. Looking ahead, First Mode plans to deploy advanced-prototype trucks with increased fuel cell power, reduced battery capacity, and enhanced fuel storage, emphasizing a modular approach to cater to different mining environments. First Mode is also developing diesel-battery hybrid and battery-only retrofit options, targeting initial production deployments by mid-2025.