President Piñera of Chile inaugurates a project for the first green hydrogen station for mining vehicles
This is an Anglo American project that consisted of the construction of a hydrogen plant in Las Tórtolas to dispense this fuel, with zero emissions, to a forklift crane that the company will use in its operations.
The mining industry already has the first hydropower plant operating at a site in Latin America. This is a work carried out by Anglo American at its Las Tórtolas operation in Colina, which marks a milestone for the development of the green hydrogen (H2v) industry in Chile.
The President of the Republic, Sebastián Piñera, who was accompanied by the biminister of Mining and Energy, Juan Carlos Jobet; the executive president of Anglo American in Chile, Aaron Puna; the undersecretaries of Mining, Edgar Blanco, and of Energy, Francisco López, and the VP of Corporate Affairs, Permits and the Environment of Anglo American, René Muga. After inaugurating the work, they witnessed the first loading with H2v to a zero carbon vehicle: a forklift that will work in the mining operation.
The President highlighted the importance of this milestone, stating that “Chile has a gigantic potential to become a leading country in the world in the production of Green Hydrogen. The goal is to develop an industry that exports more than US $ 30 billion a year, a level close to current copper exports. Green hydrogen (H2v) presents a series of benefits as a clean and sustainable energy vector in mining in our country. For example, reducing diesel consumption. This is a clean, transportable, competitive and sustainable fuel, which will allow us a great reduction in CO2 emissions ”.
He added that “we are fulfilling our commitment to combat this climate crisis and achieve an inclusive and sustainable development for Chile, which incorporates all our compatriots and protects our environment and future generations.”
For his part, biminister Jobet highlighted the importance of H2v for mining, but added that its use will extend to cargo transport, industrial processes and even for residential use, mixing it with natural gas in household networks. “We have identified today more than 40 green hydrogen projects in our country. There are some that are to produce hydrogen itself, like this one we saw today. There are some that are to produce ammonia, which is a derivative of hydrogen and is used in fertilizers and explosives for mining. Others that will produce synthetic fuels, for example, in the Magallanes Region. So, we have many different projects, which shows the enormous interest that there is to develop this industry at the local level ”, he explained.
The project presented by Anglo American is part of the company’s Sustainable Mining Plan, which has among its objectives to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations in Chile by 2030.
“Chile has set out to be a world leader in the production of Green Hydrogen, and at Anglo American we are convinced that the country has all the attributes to achieve it. As a company we want to contribute to accelerating this agenda, with pioneering initiatives such as this Hydropower Plant, which also encourage us to achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. The implementation of this project is a clear example of the long-term commitment we have with the country and with the development of an activity that generates value and benefits for all ”, explained the executive president of Anglo American in Chile, Aaron Puna.
In parallel to the efforts made by mining companies, the ministries of Energy and Mining are working on the guidelines, strategies and regulatory bases to develop H2v in the mining industry in Chile, and during the last two months, in conjunction with universities, The private and public sector, in addition to experts, developed the first Green Hydrogen Pilot Guide that will be made available to the industry to facilitate the implementation of pilot projects in mining environments.
How H2v works
Unlike diesel fuel, H2v can be stored in fuel cells that allow the operation of vehicles adapted to this form of mobility or that have been developed to use H2v instead of diesel. In fact, the Anglo American Group is developing the first mining truck in the world that will use Green Hydrogen as fuel, with a view to making this technology operational in Chile within two years; This pilot will be implemented in the Mogalakwena operation, in South Africa.
As for the hydrogeneration, it requires energy to function, since H2v is obtained from the electrification of water (electrolysis). For the operation of this hydrogeneration, the company reuses the same water that it uses in the mining process, then demineralizes it and applies electrolysis to generate hydrogen.
This process also requires a high energy capacity -to electrify the water- which is obtained from two solar plants built inside Las Tórtolas, one of them located on a tailings deposit.
The investments are part of an innovation and development plan for new technologies that Anglo American is promoting in Chile, in order to achieve cleaner mining, which reduces its environmental footprint, and which also considers the Integrated Remote Operation Center of Los Bronces (IROC), the first largest fleet of intercity electric buses in South America, the creation of a digital twin of Los Bronces, and the first photovoltaic plant on a tailings deposit in the world, among others.