Fortescue advances hydrogen technology at Christmas Creek

Hydrogen-powered coaches will be added to Fortescue Metals Group’s (Fortescue) fleet at its Christmas Creek operations in the Pilbara in a demonstration of the company’s drive towards zero-emissions mobility.

The A$32 million renewable hydrogen mobility project – the first for an Australian mining operation – will see the deployment of 10 full-sized hydrogen coaches, custom built by HYZON Motors, to replace the existing fleet of diesel coaches at Christmas Creek from mid-2021. It will be supported by the installation of a refuelling station, which will harness renewable electricity from the Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project to generate renewable hydrogen onsite.

Fortescue Deputy Chief Executive Officer Julie Shuttleworth said, “This project represents a first step towards decarbonising our mobile fleet, which is an important part of our goal to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040.”

“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. 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. 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,” Shuttleworth said.

HYZON Motors Co-Founder Craig Knight said, “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.”

“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,” Knight said.

Fortescue has received A$2 million in funding through the Western Australian Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Fund to support the development of this project.

In April 2020, Fortescue and ATCO Australia (ATCO) entered into a partnership to build and operate the first combined hydrogen production and refuelling facility in Western Australia. The facility will initially provide Fortescue, ATCO and approved third parties with the opportunity to refuel hydrogen vehicles.

The project has received A$1 million in funding through the Western Australian Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Fund.