In a world that is rallying towards carbon neutrality, industries, including mining must strategise to provide the feedstocks necessary for a decarbonised world and deliver do so in the cleanest way possible.

Anglo American is one company that has seized this opportunity and is responding with both ambitious commitments for its decarbonisation agenda while increasingly focusing its portfolio on future enabling metals and minerals for its customers.

The company has set itself a target of achieving carbon neutral operations by 2040 – for scope 1 and 2 emissions – and of cutting its scope 3 emissions by 50% by that same date. It has adopted technologies that benefit from renewables such as wind, solar, hydrogen and potentially pumped hydro-storage, both to help it achieve its carbon-neutral goals and to help it become more competitive.

Governments around the world are pursuing a carbon-neutral future. But getting to net-zero requires more than just the use of renewable energy sources – and this is where hydrogen comes in.

Under its FutureSmart Mining™ programme – which is technology, digitalisation and sustainability working hand in hand – Anglo American has identified an energy mix that allows it to be carbon neutral using end-to-end integrated hydrogen production, fuelling and haulage system for mine sites. This integrated solution, known as the nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution (ZEHS), is a first for the mining industry and will see the company continuing the deployment of it at 7 of its open-pit sites converting all its diesel-powered ultra-class mine haul trucks at these sites to green hydrogen.

Innovative, clean and independent power systems, such as Anglo American’s nuGen™ ZEHS project, not only contributes towards decarbonisation but also serves as a catalyst to support South Africa’s decarbonisation journey and ambitions for a Just Transition that leaves no one behind.

Hydrogen, described as the fuel of the future, has a significant and wide-ranging systemic role to play in achieving a low carbon future. Interestingly, the prospects for the adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for clean energy and transport have increased markedly in recent years, as the urgency to tackle climate change has increased and as governments have recognised its potential.

As one of the world’s leading producers and suppliers of platinum group metals (PGMs), Anglo American sees a significant opportunity to further unlock South Africa’s economic growth potential through the role of PGMs and the hydrogen economy. PGMs are involved in the production of ‘green’ hydrogen through electrolysis; is a catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells used to power electric vehicles and plays required for cleaning up the noxious gases from internal combustion engines (ICE).

The company expects hydrogen and electricity from renewable energy sources progressively to displace diesel and petrol for vehicles and other machinery. It believes the economic development associated with these changes could potentially provide the backbone for creating a hydrogen economy in the region.

In partnership with Anglo American, a recent Business Day Dialogue put the spotlight on how the mining company and its partners are building the hydrogen economy in SA. The panel included Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American Platinum and deputy chair of the Energy Council of South Africa; Fahmida Smith, market development principal at Anglo American Platinum; and Jonathan Debasc, MD of Thermal, Supply and Hydrogen Africa at ENGIE.

In living its Purpose of re-imagine mining to improve people’s lives, Anglo American has recognised that the industry must do things differently.  if This requires it to be more targeted and innovative, to use less water and energy and, crucially, to generate fewer or no greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here to re-watch the discussion

Photo Caption: From left to right: Natascha Viljoen, CEO, Anglo American Platinum , Jonathan Debasc, MD: Thermal, Supply and Hydrogen Africa, ENGIE, Fahmida Smith, Market Development Principal, Anglo American & Alishia Seckam, Journalist