First Mode to accelerate mining truck decarbonisation retrofit adoption with Mitsui collaboration

First Mode, the pioneering developer and manufacturer of decarbonisation products for heavy industry, has announced a strategic alliance with Mitsui & Co Ltd, the international trading company and investment group with extensive interests in the mining industry, to accelerate heavy industry’s adoption of low-carbon and zero-emissions product solutions at scale.

First Mode says its considerable expertise in powertrain systems electrification and hydrogen technologies, coupled with Mitsui’s global business network, will uniquely equip the alliance to explore new business opportunities that catalyse the integration of First Mode’s Path to Zero™ product line into previously hard-to-abate sectors like mining.

“We are honoured to enter into a strategic alliance with Mitsui to support and help scale our solutions that are proven to reduce heavy industry’s polluting outputs. The collaboration underscores our shared commitment to sustainability and the critical role of partnerships when addressing complex global challenges through innovation,” said Julian Soles, CEO of First Mode.

In mining, a typical heavy-haul truck burns about 1 million litres of diesel fuel per year and remains in continuous operation for 10-15 years. Across First Mode’s customer market, over 13,000 of these trucks are in global operation, releasing 35 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually – the equivalent emissions of 8 million passenger cars per year.

To help the sector achieve its goal of 85-100% emissions reduction by 2050, First Mode’s Path to Zero™ product line begins with a low-risk hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) retrofit that requires no infrastructure changes and uses regenerative braking to decrease truck fuel use and carbon emissions by up to 25%. From there, the HEV’s interoperable ‘feed forward’ design enables mining companies to complete their fleet conversion to zero-emissions using First Mode’s full battery or next-generation hydrogen fuel cell EV drivetrains at a pace and timeline that they control.

“Mitsui recognises First Mode as a pioneer in decarbonisation solutions for the mining sector, particularly in the replacement of diesel fuel. Our relationship with them dates back to 2020, when we first explored the possibility of testing their early-stage fuel cell innovation at one of our mine sites. As such, we are eager to support their growth by leveraging our presence in the mining, mobility, and other heavy industries. Moreover, we will utilise our capabilities in renewable energy, green hydrogen, and hydrogen-derived synthetic fuels, along with our extensive network and investments in the clean energy sector, which includes batteries and hydrogen-related solutions like storage tanks. These efforts align with our commitment to a sustainable future,” said Ken Ito, General Manager of Mitsui’s Coal & Carbon Solution Division.

First Mode has been working in the mining sector since 2018, with successes that include developing the world’s first and largest hydrogen fuel cell electric truck in partnership with Anglo American’s nuGen™ zero emissions technology program. In 2023, following a capital investment and supply agreement with Anglo American that made Anglo American not only the majority shareholder but also a key customer, First Mode launched its Path to Zero™ product line of diesel hybrid, battery electric, and next-generation hydrogen fuel cell drivetrains.

First Mode says nothing like its Path to Zero™ product line exists in the market today because its sequential retrofit approach to decarbonisation “helps mining, rail, and other heavy industry companies safeguard their original haulage investments while also starting, progressing, and succeeding on their path to zero emissions.”