Anglo American says green hydrogen studies highlight its potential as an energy of the future

The findings of studies led by Anglo American in Chile and Peru it says have identified the top locations for green hydrogen development.

In Chile, the study, which began in April of this year, was carried out in collaboration with the Hydrogen Technologies Unit of the Catholic University of Chile. Its findings suggest that the development of a green hydrogen valley or H2V in eight areas in the central zone of Chile could result in initial investment of at least US$3.5 billion and generate ~10,000 jobs. The study also estimated that the introduction of green hydrogen on a large scale in the central zone would displace around 3,000 ktons of CO2 per year, equivalent to taking 850,000 cars out of circulation.

Juan Pablo Schaeffer, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability for Anglo American in Chile, commented: “Green hydrogen will play an important role in helping us to decarbonise Chile. So, we’re very pleased that we’ve been able to share this study that shows that the development of a green hydrogen valley in Chile is feasible and has the potential to be hugely beneficial, for our communities, the environment, and wider society.”

María José Reveco, Head of Fuels and New Energies Division at Chile’s Ministry of Energy, added: “Collaboration between different industries in the development of green hydrogen will not only move us closer to achieving our decarbonisation goals, it also has the potential to improve our energy security and independence, a benefit that is sometimes overlooked.”

Moquegua Crece, Anglo’s Collaborative Regional Development socio-economic development programme in Peru, in partnership with H2 Peru, the Peruvian Hydrogen Association, has also been looking into the potential for green hydrogen. Together they recently published a summary of the first regional study to assess the potential of the country’s southern region as a green hydrogen valley.

The study identified opportunities for a local as well as an export market for green hydrogen in the potential ‘Southern Hydrogen Valley,’ which includes Moquegua where our Quellaveco copper mine is based. The proposed Valley has the potential to host up to six green hydrogen hubs, catering for both local and international demand.

The findings projected that, in the long term, a new hydrogen economy could generate between 3,400 and 74,000 direct jobs and an additional minimum GDP of US$ 800 to 4,000 million in the region.

Says Sergio Ignacio González Nuñez, Socio-Economic Development Principal, with Anglo American in Peru: “One of the most important things that we had to consider was to make the research relevant for the whole region of the south of Peru, and especially in Moquegua…by having a more focused and detailed study, we’ll be able to shape the conversations at a regional and national level, and hopefully leverage the discussions on the national hydrogen roadmap and further opportunities. The study also opened other opportunities to understand the potential of other resources in the context of the green hydrogen economy, such as water.”

Green hydrogen is generated through a chemical process known as electrolysis during which an electrical current separates the hydrogen from the oxygen in water. If the electricity is obtained from renewable sources, a possibility in areas rich in solar and wind power, energy can be produced without emitting any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere­­­­.

In what was a first in Chile, two years ago Anglo American set up a green hydrogen station at its Las Tórtolas plant to power a forklift. Using two solar plants and recycled water to create the green hydrogen, it reduces emissions equivalent to 24 t of CO2 per year.

In Peru, the availability of solar power, combined with declining electricity prices, means there is great potential to market green hydrogen competitively, both at home and abroad, with on-site production in countries such as Germany, Japan and the US being costly.

Anglo adds: “We are a company committed to maintaining a healthy environment – one of the three pillars of our Sustainable Mining Plan – and to tackling climate change, one of the defining challenges of our time. We’re working to decarbonise our industry, and create a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable world. So, developing the hydrogen economy, a sector which can play a significant role in the transition to a low-carbon world, is a priority for us.”

The recent studies in Chile and Peru follow on from the work Anglo has done in recent years in South Africa. “Thanks to its world-leading solar and wind resources, and access to the platinum group metals (PGMs) needed for converting hydrogen into energy, the country is poised to capitalise on hydrogen, as a consumer and a producer, and become an important centre for green hydrogen production.”

In 2021, the miner worked with South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation, Engie, and Bambili Energy, to carry out a feasibility study that looked at the possibility of setting up a hydrogen valley in the Bushveld geological area. The study revealed that the project could add more than $3.9 billion to the country’s GDP by 2050 and create more than 14,000 jobs per year.

“And we know that hydrogen can also help us to decarbonise our own operations – in May last year we unveiled First Mode’s nuGenTM hydrogen-powered ultra-class mine haul truck at our PGMs mine in Mogalakwena. Once we convert our entire fleet of ~400 diesel-powered trucks to green hydrogen, we will remove up to 80% of diesel emissions at our open pit mines and move closer to our 2040 carbon neutrality goals.”