Fortescue Metals Group is introducing hydrogen powered coaches to its fleet at the Christmas Creek iron ore mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region as it strives towards zero-emissions mobility.
The renewable hydrogen mobility project is the first of its kind for an Australian mining operation and will see 10 full-sized custom built Hyzon Motors hydrogen coaches replace the fleet of diesel coaches at Christmas Creek from mid-2021.
Fortescue will also install a refuelling station which will harness renewable electricity from the Chichester solar gas hybrid project, allowing the company to generate renewable hydrogen onsite.
Julie Shuttleworth, Fortescue deputy chief executive officer, said the project represented a first step towards the company decarbonising its mobile fleet, which is part of its goal to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040.
“As a significant energy consumer, we are actively pursuing opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint and cost base and we expect hydrogen to play a key role,” Shuttleworth said.
“Fortescue’s mobile fleet represents around 400 to 450 million litres of diesel consumption per year and presents a significant opportunity for hydrogen to be used as a replacement fuel source to accelerate emissions reduction and diversify our energy mix.
“Fortescue’s history of developing and adopting innovation and technology has been key to achieving our industry-leading cost position and we are applying this technology-first strategy to our hydrogen initiatives to ensure we remain at the forefront of this emerging industry.”
Hyzon Motors co-founder Craig Knight said Fortescue’s move to adopt hydrogen coaches was “hugely rewarding” for the company.
“After almost 20 years working with fuel cell technology, it is hugely rewarding to see the genuine enthusiasm for decarbonisation from one of the leading miners of the world,” Knight said.
“We can see first-hand how Fortescue has forged and sustained their rightful place through constant innovation and we see hydrogen as another example of their willingness to lead through action.”
Fortescue’s renewable hydrogen mobility project is worth $32 million with the Western Australian Government supporting its development with $2 million in funding through its renewable hydrogen fund.
The mining giant formed a partnership with ATCO Australia during April to build and operate the first combined hydrogen and refuelling facility in Western Australia, which will provide Fortescue, ATCO and approved third parties with the opportunity to refuel hydrogen vehicles.