Tag Archives: hydrogen

TNG enlists Metso Outotec’s H2-based Circored process for Mount Peake concentrate plans

TNG Limited, an Australia-based resources company, has awarded Metso Outotec a study looking at reducing Mount Peake Ti-V magnetite concentrate using Circored™ technology, which uses hydrogen as its only reductant source.

As part of the study, Metso Outotec will perform a techno-economic assessment to integrate Circored technology into TNG’s TIVAN® process that provides for the extraction of high-quality products from Ti-V magnetite orebodies.

Metso Outotec has been granted this assignment following positive test work performed for TNG, which confirmed the applicability of hydrogen-based reduction for Mount Peake Ti-V magnetite concentrate.

The test work program, which was a precursor to a more detailed commercial and technical evaluation, was a success, TNG says, delivering the following results:

  • Achieved iron metallisation targets across a range of testwork parameters;
  • Demonstrated the viability of processing Mount Peake titanomagnetite concentrate with Metso Outotec’s Circored technology; and
  • Generated samples for downstream validation testwork.

Now, Metso Outotec will further define the process flowsheet for the Mount Peake project and prepare a preliminary capital cost and operating cost (+/-30%) for a Circored Plant.

The use of hydrogen is a key part of the TNG’s medium-to-longer-term strategy to reduce its net carbon footprint from processing operations at the Mount Peake project.

TNG Managing Director & CEO, Paul Burton, said the Metso Outotec study also complements its existing partnership with SMS group, which TNG has a strategic partnership with, to investigate green hydrogen production at Mount Peake.

Located 235 km north of Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory of Australia, Mount Peake will be a long-life project producing a suite of high-quality, high-purity strategic products for global markets including vanadium pentoxide, titanium dioxide pigment and iron ore fines, accordiing to TNG. The project has received Major Project Status from the Australian Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government.

Circored, part of Metso Outotec’s Planet Positive portfolio, is a process that uses hydrogen as the sole reducing agent in the reduction of fine ores, enabling carbon neutrality for metal processing plants.

Shell on the future of fuel switching

Mark Hannan, General Manager for Mining Decarbonisation at Shell, explores how mining operators can switch their fleets from diesel to low-carbon fuels as part of a wider transition to zero-carbon fuels.

The mining industry is in need of decarbonisation but delivering change at pace is a real challenge. There is huge pressure to achieve this when, it is estimated, 10% of the world’s energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from primary minerals and metals production, according to Nature Geoscience Magazine (2020).

For a mining company to achieve their decarbonisation goals, it is beneficial to maximise the benefits in the short term while providing greater flexibility for the long term. One such area that offers opportunities for this is fuel switching in mining fleets.

Decarbonisation drives the need for alternative fuels

No matter what stage a mining business has reached on its pathway to decarbonisation, it is important to review how its mobile assets impact the environment. McKinsey shows that between 40-50% of CO2 emissions in mining come from the diesel used for mobile assets.

Due to concerns around diesel fumes in confined spaces, the problem is largely being solved in underground sites – with some due to run entirely on battery-electric assets in the near term. In open-pit mines, where equipment is larger, emissions from diesel fuel are a challenge still to overcome, which is why fuel switching is essential to decarbonisation.

However, there are still many elements to consider when making the business case for alternative fuels. This includes the performance of alternative fuels in comparison with diesel, the capital investment needed to implement them and how widely available they are. That is before analysing the benefits of meeting emissions targets against the higher cost of using low-carbon fuels.

A net-zero future is coming, but it is not here yet

In the longer term, there are two diesel alternatives that will offer key routes to effective fuel switching: hydrogen and electricity.

Hydrogen is set to play a significant role in the decarbonisation of every industry – not least those featuring hard-to-abate sectors like mining. As well as reducing emissions in overall energy use across sites, hydrogen will provide a low-carbon alternative to diesel that also delivers higher energy density to drive the performance of mobile assets.

Government support for hydrogen power is growing rapidly and it is an area in which Shell is working closely with customers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to drive innovation and deliver supply at scale. However, with hydrogen supply dependent on elements such as the availability and cost of technology, land, water, storage and transport, it is an alternative that will only start to present real impact from 2030 and beyond.

For off-highway equipment in mining, fleet electrification is often seen as a more relevant near-term solution. This is not surprising as electric power can not only contribute to reduced emissions but also help businesses shift away from their exposure to volatile diesel prices – potentially leading to a positive impact on total cost of ownership (TCO).

To help deliver on the mining industry’s longer-term aspirations for fleet electrification, Shell is developing a suite of modular end-to-end solutions for mining heavy-duty vehicles that decarbonises haul trucks while minimising the operational impact of electrification in a scalable, interoperable and sustainable way.

When looking to make the switch to electrification, mining companies must address the significant escalation in power demand that would come with full-scale electrification. Also, they will want to know the electricity is generated from renewable sources – helping them to reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Electrification powered by renewable energy will be a significant driver of change for mining sites, which is why Shell is working to overcome the barriers to increasing its renewable capacity – such as the need for upgrades to the grid and storage capabilities.

Low-carbon fuels offer an immediate next step for mining businesses

Hydrogen and electrification represent the future of fuel for mobility in mining. But, in the short term, there is another alternative that can act as a transition fuel and help lower emissions while businesses wait for hydrogen and electricity to become viable at scale: low-carbon fuels.

There are two types of low-carbon fuels relevant to mobility in mining:

  • Biodiesel – also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME); and
  • Renewable diesel – also known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO)

Though both are derived from organic biomass like waste vegetable oils and animal fats, there are differences in their chemical composition owing to a different manufacturing process that impact their use. For instance, biodiesel is the more affordable choice, yet most OEMs place a limit on the percentage it is possible to blend with conventional diesel due to quality concerns such as storage stability and performance in cold temperatures. Renewable diesel more closely resembles the composition of conventional diesel, meaning it can be blended in any ratio up to a concentration of 100%, but is more expensive due to the complexity in refinery processing. Crucially, both fuels offer a route to emissions reduction in mining – and a combination of the two is likely to be needed.

These low-carbon fuels offer a more immediate solution to the challenges of fleet decarbonisation in mining, without making costly investments in infrastructure. Not only can they be used in existing heavy-duty diesel engines, but, as long as they are in accordance with manufacturer advice, they also require no infrastructure investment. This makes them a more affordable short-term option that enables businesses to reduce emissions today while working to implement the ecosystem needed to transition to hydrogen and electricity tomorrow.

Overcoming the challenges of availability at scale

The merits of low-carbon fuels for a sites’ mobility needs might already be clear. After all, the technology is mature and it is easy to implement – certainly compared with hydrogen and electricity. However, there are still barriers to overcome before we see widespread adoption in the mining industry.

Availability and affordability are the two critical challenges. Despite its maturity, supply of low-carbon fuels is tight – especially given the remote regions that mining operations usually take place in. The need to comply with regional regulations on renewable fuels is also driving rising demand. For example, the EU Commission’s renewable energy directive has proposed increasing its target for renewable energy sources consumption by 2030 to 45% (up from its current goal of 32%).

Also, mining is not the only sector looking to alternative fuels to drive decarbonisation, meaning businesses will need to compete and trade with areas like commercial road transport to source low-carbon options. With more users needing access to alternative fuels, premiums for low-carbon fuels remain high. This can make low-carbon fuels less affordable and risks undermining any TCO improvements businesses can expect to realise from fuel switching.

It means that businesses are hesitant to act today as they wait for more capacity and greater competition to arrive – even though mining cannot afford to delay its emissions reduction efforts. That is why, at Shell, we are working to deliver additional capacity and competition. As well as investing in new production facilities (including a new biofuels facility in the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rotterdam, which will produce sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel made from waste in The Netherlands once it comes onstream), we are using our existing relationships with OEMs to help mining businesses get the most out of the low-carbon fuels they do have access to.

Collaboration will be critical to fuel switching success

Ultimately, if mining businesses are to meet their regulatory responsibilities while driving performance, they will need to unlock the opportunity that fuel switching provides. From low-carbon fuels to electrification to hydrogen, there is huge potential to reduce emissions while improving the TCO of mining mobility.

Successful fuel switching will require close collaboration with partners and suppliers to create a new fuel ecosystem by improving the availability and affordability of alternatives to conventional diesel. Only by working together will we deliver a new fuel future for mining, which is why Shell Mining is committed to supporting the industry on every step of its decarbonisation journey.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Pacific Energy adds hydrogen power options with ENGV, Nel arrangements

Pacific Energy has announced the acquisition of ENGV, an Australia-based leading turnkey provider of green hydrogen production and refuelling facilities, as well as entered multi-year exclusive supply arrangements for Australia and New Zealand with Nel ASA of Norway, one of the world’s largest manufacturer of electrolysers.

The ENGV acquisition further advances Pacific Energy’s in-house capabilities, uniquely positioning the group to be the only sustainable distributed energy provider in Australia with internal capability to provide and integrate all renewable energy technology and services, the company says. This includes solar, wind, battery, LNG and now hydrogen, as well as traditional gas- and diesel-fired generation.

ENGV was established in 2013 as a full-service provider in all areas of hydrogen, natural gas, biomethane and LPG and has grown with the evolving Australian clean energy market. It is recognised as the market leader in green hydrogen and renewable gas services and solutions, Pacific Energy says.

“ENGV was the first – and is the most experienced organisation – in deployment of hydrogen and renewable gas technologies in Australia and has completed multiple design and install projects incorporating hydrogen refuelling station facilities, electrolysers and fuel cells,” it said.

The company has a suite of long-standing supply agreements with global suppliers of hydrogen and renewable gas production, refuelling, compression and transportation equipment, including Nel, Hexagon Purus, PowerCell and KwangShin.

Jamie Cullen, Pacific Energy Group’s CEO, said he was thrilled to announce the addition of ENGV to the group.

“This is an incredibly exciting acquisition and milestone for our group, as we embark on a national growth strategy and add the final piece to complete our renewable energy capability profile,” he said. “We have been witnessing a transformation in our industry in recent years and our pipeline of potential new projects has evolved to be comprised of around 75% renewable energy. This compares with less than 20% only a few years ago, and we now have full turnkey capabilities across all major renewable energy technologies for our mining, industrial and government customers.”

Sean Blythe, Founder, and CEO of ENGV, added: “This is a great opportunity for ENGV to accelerate our growth in tandem with the rapidly expanding hydrogen and renewable gas markets in Australia. Becoming part of the fast-growing Pacific Energy group will bring mutual opportunities to our respective businesses and staff. Personnel from both organisations already have good working relationships resulting from the work we are doing together at Denham in Western Australia, where we are delivering Australia’s first renewable hydrogen microgrid facility.”

Cullen, meanwhile, said he was excited to have cemented exclusive electrolyser supply arrangements with Nel. The company recently attended the official opening of Nel’s latest production facility in Herøya, Norway, which is the world’s first fully automated electrolyser production facility, with an initial capacity of 500 MW, scalable up to 2 GW.

Established in 1927, Nel supplies electrolysers globally and estimates that is has supplied over 75% of all electrolysers to date globally. This includes a 3.5 MW electrolyser it supplied to ENGIE as part of a project to deliver the world’s largest fuel cell haul truck for Anglo American.

Nel has had supply agreements in place with ENGV since 2018 and these have now been renewed with Pacific Energy exclusively across the Australian and New Zealand markets, Pacific Energy said.

Nel’s Vice President Sales & Marketing (EMEA – Oceania), Raymond Schmid, said: “We recognise the importance and emergence of Australia in the green hydrogen market. The abundance of solar, wind and land resources provide the perfect landscape for green hydrogen production and together with Pacific Energy, we are excited to play a major role as the industry develops this decade and into the next.”

Rio Tinto to provide Salzgitter with iron ore for hydrogen direct reduction steelmaking trials

Rio Tinto and the Salzgitter Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together towards carbon-free steelmaking by studying optimisation of Rio Tinto’s high-quality Canadian and Australian iron ore products for use in Salzgitter’s SALCOS® green steel project in Germany.

Under the MoU, the two companies will explore optimisation of iron ore pellets, lump and fines for use in hydrogen direct reduction steelmaking. The two companies will also explore the potential for greenhouse gas emission certification across the steel value chain.

Rio Tinto produces iron ore pellets and concentrate at Iron Ore Company of Canada and iron ore lump and fines in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The partnership will focus on the potential use of these products in the SALCOS – Salzgitter Low CO2 Steelmaking – program, which is targeting virtually carbon-free steel production, starting step-by-step in 2025 using hydrogen direct reduction.

Rio Tinto Chief Commercial Officer, Alf Barrios, said: “We welcome the chance to work with Salzgitter on ways to accelerate green steelmaking, in keeping with our commitment to reduce emissions across the steel value chain.

“Salzgitter has one of the world’s most advanced green steelmaking projects. Rio Tinto is excited at the opportunity of supplying our product and combining our technical expertise with that of Salzgitter to help advance the SALCOS project.”

Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH Chairman of the Management Board, Ulrich Grethe, said: “With this alliance, we want to combine the knowledge of both companies to make further progress with low-carbon steel production.

“In this context, the Salzgitter Group is relying on strong partners, as set out in our ‘Salzgitter AG 2030’ Group strategy, in line with its motto of ‘Partnering for Circular Solutions’.”

The agreement follows a similar technical cooperation pact signed with LKAB last week, which could see the Europe-based iron ore miner supply high-quality iron ore pellets to Salzgitter for its SALCOS project.

Rio Tinto says it is committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and is targeting a 15% reduction in Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 2025 (from a 2018 baseline) and a 50% reduction by 2030. Rio Tinto’s approach to addressing Scope 3 emissions is to engage with its customers on climate change and work with them to develop the technologies to decarbonise.

Under the SALCOS program, Salzgitter’s carbon-based blast furnace route will gradually be replaced from the middle of this decade by direct reduction plants, initially operated by natural gas and then with a steadily increasing proportion of hydrogen.

dynaCERT carbon emission reduction engine tech heads to South American open-pit mines

dynaCERT Inc says seven of its HydraGEN™ Technology Units (HG1R, 4C and 6C units) are to be installed at open-pit mines in Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

H2 Tek, dynaCERT’s dealer, focuses on equipping mining companies throughout the globe with dynaCERT’s proprietary patented HydraGEN technology. In conjunction with its partners, H2 Tek has indicated to dynaCERT that the company’s proprietary 4C and 6C HydraGEN Units are very desired by several world-class open-pit mining operations in the Americas, which are owned and operated by some of the world’s largest international mining conglomerates.

Along with other H2 Tek installations, these technologies will be installed in open-pit mines on various equipment, including Caterpillar 793 and 777 haul trucks and a large 4.5 MW diesel generator with a Cat 280-16 engine.

“Global mining companies recognize the immediate imperatives of utilising commercially and readily available technologies to reduce their carbon footprint and welcome and embrace dynaCERT’s patented 4C and 6C HydraGEN Technology, which is particularly suited to the mining, construction and oil & gas industries,” dynaCERT says.

In 2021 and 2022, dynaCERT’s 4C and 6C HydraGEN technology has been redesigned to adapt to the rigourous requirements of the harsh environments of open-pit mining operations, which are commonly located at high altitudes and inclement conditions in remote areas throughout the globe, it said.

David Van Klaveren, Vice President of Global Sales of H2 Tek, said: “Our national and multinational customers appreciate the significant promise of dynaCERT’s HydraGEN technology and look forward to advancing progress for their ESG priorities through its successful implementation.”

Jim Payne, President & CEO of dynaCERT, added: “I am very pleased to now deploy our proprietary HydraGEN technology with global mining companies operating under harsh conditions. Our proprietary and patented HydraGEN technology is designed to reduce fuel consumption in internal combustion engines and reduce carbon and NOx emissions: so important to providing a global solution to reduce pollution. Progressive mining companies are the trailblazers that fight a noble battle against air pollution.”

dynaCERT manufactures and distributes carbon emission reduction technology for use with internal combustion engines. As part of the growing global hydrogen economy, its patented technology creates hydrogen and oxygen on-demand through a unique electrolysis system and supplies these gases through the air intake to enhance combustion, resulting in lower carbon emissions and greater fuel efficiency, it says.

LKAB accelerates carbon-dioxide-free sponge iron plans

LKAB says it is boosting both the pace and the level of ambition of its plans towards transitioning to carbon-dioxide-free sponge iron following a successful exploration program.

A dramatic increase in mineral resources means that the plan for future production of sponge iron has been upped to 24.4 Mt/y by 2050. This will enable a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions among global steel industry customers corresponding to nearly all of Sweden’s current greenhouse gas emissions, LKAB says.

“The climate can’t wait and demand for the raw material for producing fossil-free steel is already upon us – before we have even reached the market,” Jan Moström, LKAB’s President and CEO, said.

In March 2022, LKAB reported increased mineral reserves and mineral resources, referencing deposits containing about 4,000 Mt, which will enable production far beyond 2060. LKAB’s known mineral reserves and resources now add up to double the amount thus far mined in the company’s 130-year history.

“We are accelerating and expanding the plans for future production of sponge iron produced with hydrogen,” Moström said.

LKAB is now moving towards a rapid industrialisation of the HYBRIT technology for transforming production in Malmberget/Gällivare, which is closely integrated with SSAB. The plan is to synchronise the transition with SSAB’s planned transition and to have switched entirely from pellet production to sponge iron amounting to some 5.4 Mt by the 2030s. This will enable emissions reductions amounting to about 9 Mt at SSAB.

Moström added: “After the most recent climate reports from the UN, the urgency of the climate issue must be obvious to everyone. We can see that this transition also makes good business sense and that it creates jobs, growth and yield on investments. By leading the way towards the green transition, we are also building Sweden’s competitive advantage internationally.

“The entire value chain must undergo a transformation, and quickly. The HYBRIT technology, which we have developed in collaboration with SSAB and Vattenfall, will be industrialised starting in Gällivare, where the first plant will be operational in 2026. The capacity increase LKAB is now planning corresponds to three more such facilities in Malmberget/Gällivare within barely a few years after commissioning of the first HYBRIT plant.”

When the transition has been completed, with increased production, by around 2050, the target is for LKAB to produce 24.4 Mt/y of sponge iron, with zero carbon dioxide emissions. By removing the oxygen from the iron ore by means of electrically-produced hydrogen gas, instead of the steel mills using fossil carbon in blast furnaces, LKAB can enable reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of between 40-50 Mt/y at steelmaking customers. That corresponds to nearly all of Sweden’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions.

A rapid transition places higher demands on fossil-free electricity and more power distribution infrastructure. LKAB’s demand, needed mainly for hydrogen gas production, is estimated at 20 TWh/y by 2030, increasing to 50 TWh/y by 2040 and finally reaching 70 TWh/y when the entire expansion has been realised by 2050.

“To make the climate transition a reality, we will need a massive expansion of power production and distribution,” Moström said. “We need to double electricity production within the next 25 years, and the iron and steel industry value chain is waiting for very other TWh of this.”

The switch from pellets to sponge iron also means that the value of the product increases significantly, according to LKAB.

Moström concluded: “In terms of today’s market prices, this expansion would triple LKAB’s revenue. By building up production of sponge iron, we are increasing the value of LKAB’s, and thereby Sweden’s, mineral reserves and resources, and creating growing export values. Above all, we are making an enormous effort for the benefit of the climate.”

Orica, Origin partner on ‘Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub’ feasibility study for Kooragang Island

Orica and Origin have announced a partnership to assess opportunities to collaborate on the development of a green hydrogen production facility, and associated value chain, in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia.

Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Orica and Origin will conduct a feasibility study into the viability of a green hydrogen production facility, or ‘Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub’, and downstream value chain opportunities.

The feasibility study will assess ways an industrial hydrogen hub could enable use cases that support a meaningful green hydrogen industry in the Hunter Valley and beyond, Orica said. This includes the supply of hydrogen for heavy industry and transport, conversion into green ammonia at Orica’s existing Kooragang Island ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility, blending hydrogen into natural gas pipelines and the potential to stimulate Australia’s hydrogen export industry.

Green hydrogen, produced via electrolysis using renewable electricity sources, has emerged as a potentially significant enabler of Australia’s transition to a lower carbon economy. The proposed hub would produce green hydrogen from recycled water sources and renewable electricity, using a grid connected 55 MW electrolyser.

Orica Chief Executive Officer, Sanjeev Gandhi, said: “We’ve been operating our Kooragang Island site for over 50 years, and are committed to ensuring both our manufacturing facility and the Newcastle region remain competitive in a low carbon economy, while also strengthening Australia’s domestic manufacturing capability.

“We support both the Federal and New South Wales Hydrogen Strategies, and this partnership will allow us to define opportunities and ways we can contribute to a more sustainable future for the region.

“This partnership aligns with our corporate strategy and our ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and our target to reduce our scope 1 and 2 operational emissions by at least 40% by 2030. By partnering for progress, we can drive sustainable change and achieve our decarbonisation ambitions, together.”

The project marks an important step in transitioning Orica’s business model towards a lower carbon economy, it said. Exploring opportunities to diversify, Orica is committed to ensuring its Kooragang Island facility remains competitive in a lower carbon economy, while creating more sustainable products for customers and broader applications for industry.

The project builds on several initiatives to enhance the long-term sustainability of the site, including the recently announced Kooragang Island Decarbonisation Project and planned installation of an Australia-first tertiary catalyst abatement technology for decarbonisation of nitric acid production. The A$37 million ($27 million) project is designed to deliver up to 95% abatement efficiency from unabated levels, reducing the site’s total greenhouse gas emissions by almost 50%.

Aggreko urges miners to embrace renewable power generation now

With decarbonisation at the forefront of miners’ agendas, one of the world’s leading provider of mobile and modular power solutions, Aggreko, has released its top tips to help miners decarbonise now and into the future.

Aggreko’s Global Head of Mining, Rod Saffy, said while miners were embracing the global energy transition, some were unsure where to begin.

“For some miners it’s about knowing where to start and they may be weighing up the cost, risk and threat of new technology in the future,” he said.

“Fortunately, technology isn’t in the same place as it was five years ago or even two years ago. Some of the renewable power technologies available today, combined with thermal generation in a hybrid solution, offer the same – if not better – levels of reliability and competitiveness than traditional thermal technology.”

Saffy said power generation companies were taking significant steps to support miners on their respective paths to net-zero emissions.

“Increasingly, power companies are offering renewables such as solar and wind energy to off-grid mines, and we often integrate those with battery storage solutions and thermal microgrids,” he said.

“If you consider a hybrid power solution – where you switch in renewables to your power mix alongside fossil fuels – your operation will be more flexible and can scale up and down as needed.

“Our approach means miners can also partner with us, long term, without being tied down to one fuel type for their power source, and new technology is introduced as it becomes viable.

“Integrating renewables in this manner will result in greater cost savings and efficiencies for your project.”

One solar and thermal hybrid solution Aggreko delivered for a remote gold mine in Africa resulted in more than 12% savings in fuel (about 10,000 litres a day) and the contract offered meant the miner did not have to come up with capital to invest in the solar plant.

Another example Aggreko is working on, Saffy said, is a 25.9 MW hybrid solar and thermal power solution for the Salares Norte open-pit mine in Chile.

“It is a ground-breaking solution designed to provide power for the entire mine, which sits at an altitude of 4,500 m in the Andes mountain range and is 190 km from the nearest town,” he explained.

“Once complete, the hybrid power plant is expected to achieve $7.4 million in cost of energy savings over the next decade, a further $1.1 million in carbon tax offset over the life of the mine, in addition to 104,000 t of carbon emissions savings.

“The system will surpass the Chilean government’s environmental standards as well as Gold Fields’ requirement for a minimum of 20% renewable power generation for mining operations.”

Saffy said the pathways to decarbonisation that held the most appeal for miners currently included:

  • Hybrid power plants (as mentioned): These combine renewables (eg solar, wind) with thermal generation and battery storage, benefitting areas with limited or no access to permanent power. These are generally cost-competitive. Once solar or wind plants are installed, their generation running costs are relatively low and at zero emissions;
  • Virtual gas pipelines: Gas power generation can offer a greener and more cost-effective alternative to diesel and heavy fuel oil. A virtual pipeline is a substitute – and an alternative – for a physical pipeline. Gas is instead transported as LNG or CNG to the point of use by sea, road, or rail. For mines not connected to a physical pipeline and looking to switch to gas from diesel, a virtual pipeline model simply imitates their current supply solution. For users who are connected to a gas pipeline but are looking to supplement insufficient or unreliable pipeline capacity, the virtual power plant solution has several advantages over diesel; and
  • Renewable energy: Renewable energy power systems are an effective way of tapping into natural resources to provide power, such as wind farms, hydro power and solar. The challenge is their reliability related to weather, hence why, if power is interrupted for any reason, it is important to ensure they’re backed by with batteries or a temporary thermal power solution.

A significant future fuel in this space will be hydrogen. Investment in hydrogen is on the rise because of the role it can play in supporting a global transition to net-zero. Its versatility and compatibility with existing furnaces, engines and generators make it particularly appealing for the mining industry, according to Aggreko.

Saffy said energy sources likely to become more prevalent in mining during the next 10 years included biofuels (would become less expensive), hydropower, energy storage (such as pumped, mechanical flywheel), and gas generation which runs with a hybrid renewable system. While it is increasingly used now as power source, wind and solar power are also expected to gain more momentum.

Aggreko is also experimenting with mobile wind solutions, re-deployable solar panels and tidal wave power (though tidal wave power might not be for the mining industry yet). The company is also accelerating its investments in hydrogen technology, with trials underway in Europe on two different technologies, where Aggreko is collaborating with lead customers and partners trialling hydrogen generators and fuel cell battery hybrids.

“It’s a very exciting time in the mining sector, and it will be amazing to see the innovations presented during the next few years as miners and energy companies collaborate and come up with new ideas for a greener future,” Saffy said.

“The key though is to start now – you can embrace renewables now into your energy mix because, done correctly, cost and emission savings can be greatly reduced without compromising reliability.”

Aggreko has its own net-zero goals by 2050 and has a 2030 target to reduce diesel use in its customer solutions by 50%.

IMARC ready to explore the race to decarbonise the energy sector

The global effort to decarbonise the energy sector is underway, and the race to net zero is shaping up to be an investment opportunity to define the decades to come, the organisers of the IMARC conference report.

Research suggests that as the price of adopting green energy continues to fall, so will the global demand for fossil-fuelled energy sources. Eventually a tipping point will be reached, and fossil fuel dependent energy companies’ assets will become ‘stranded’ unless they can adapt or pivot toward new sustainable energy practices.

As nations in the first world expand and those from the second and third world modernise, their energy needs will do the same, meaning more electricity, more hydrogen, more nuclear and more yet-to-be-discovered energy sources will be needed than ever before.

For the companies participating in Australia’s biggest mining conference, the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in 2022, staying in the race to decarbonise is essential.

Tipping point

Research suggests the tipping point for fossil-fuelled energy providers will come when costs for renewables reach parity with the lowest-cost traditional fossil alternatives, and this could be much sooner than 2050.

For such companies, demonstrating the long-term value to investors in a soon-to-be stranded asset class is becoming an increasingly hard sell. But it does not have to be. By pivoting toward renewable energy and investing in a low-carbon future, companies can ensure their survival after net zero.

EDL CEO, James Harman, said the industry was making the slow but sure transition to decarbonisation.

“The world has long relied on cheap, plentiful fossil fuels to power economies,” Harman said.

“In the early 2010s, EDL started looking to solar and wind generation as alternatives to fossil fuels across our portfolio, particularly for off-grid customers in remote Australia who were largely dependent on diesel- or gas-fuelled generation.

“In recent years, we have enjoyed great success with our hybrid energy solutions, helping our customers reduce their carbon footprint, but importantly maintaining and improving reliability whilst holding or reducing price. For example, our Agnew Hybrid Renewable Microgrid at Gold Fields’ Agnew Gold Mine provides the mine with energy that is an average of 50-60% from renewable sources, with 99.99% reliability.”

“EDL was one of the pioneers in the Australian landfill gas sector in the 1990s and, today, we are leading the way in high renewable energy fraction islanded microgrids. We are also exploring the introduction of landfill gas to renewable natural gas/biomethane technology to the Australian market, and the economic production of green hydrogen.”

ESG reinvigorating investment

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks are, at their core, risk assessment tools that consider the effect climate change will have on investors’ value creation opportunities. In June 2021, research and advisory experts, Gartner, released some jaw-dropping facts about the growing importance of ESG credentials.

According to Gartner, more than 90% of banks monitor ESG, along with 24 global credit ratings agencies, 71% of fixed income investors and more than 90% of insurers. Media mentions of ESG data, ratings or scores grew by 30% year-over-year in 2020, and 67% of banks screen their loan portfolios for ESG risks.

Harman acknowledged that it was important for attitudes and practices across the energy sector to change.

“Given that electricity generators are some of Australia’s biggest carbon emitters and most of the product generated is carbon intensive and derived from fossil fuels – the most important ESG themes for energy companies are climate change action and environmental stewardship,” he said.

“This includes investment in research and development into zero emissions technologies such as distributed energy solutions, energy storage and alternative renewable fuels as well as carbon capture & storage.”

ABB Australia Head of Mining, Nik Gresshoff, is encouraged by the innovation and progress he’s seeing in electrification and hydrogen technologies. ABB Australia is a Gold Sponsor of IMARC in 2022.

“The challenge for mining companies now is to map out their own journey, and to weigh up the gains that can be achieved now through automation, along with the investment required to get to net zero,” Gresshoff said.

Gresshoff recommends companies first define what their carbon footprint is, and what falls within their scope for decarbonisation, before beginning a net-zero journey. “Are they focusing on direct and indirect emissions initially or including the whole supply chain from the outset?” he asked.

“The next step is to examine the technology and what is currently possible to decarbonise. Having a clear understanding of where the company assets are in their lifecycle is critical, as well as an understanding of what technology is available and what technology could fit with the current operation.”

Can dinosaurs survive the Ice Age?

Fossil fuels may be going the way of the dinosaurs that created them, but economies of the future will still require the massive infrastructure frameworks and operational capacities to meet current and future energy needs.

In fact, economists have suggested an overnight collapse of the energy giants could result in massive job cuts and instability leading to a global economic recession.

As was made clear at the Glasgow COP 26 Summit, there is a ‘wall of money’ that will be available for the energy companies of the future – whether that is retrofitting existing gas pipelines for transport of liquid hydrogen or utilising closed coal mine sites for new nuclear power sites, or any number of ways that energy companies can and are pivoting.
EDL believes there is an opportunity for many technologies to play their part.

“There won’t be a one-size-fits-all energy solution that achieves affordability, reliability and sustainability for our diverse country,” Harman said.

“Large conventional power stations are and will continue to be replaced with lower emissions plant with support to make them more dispatchable, allowing cheaper renewable energy to be scheduled when available.

“For shorter-term storage, batteries are feasible but longer-term storage is currently uneconomic. There are a few potential options to resolve this including pumped hydro, new kinds of batteries and hydrogen.

“Based on our experience in the USA, we also see the potential for renewable natural gas (RNG), or biomethane, to play a significant part in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables in the industrial, heating, power and transport industries. RNG production is a technologically mature, ready-to-scale product that is deployable now.”

EDL’s James Harman will be sharing further insights on net zero at the upcoming IMARC in Melbourne, Australia, taking place on January 31-February 2, 2022.

IM is a media sponsor of IMARC

Hyundai CE bolsters Ulsan plant to support electric-, hydrogen-powered equipment plan

Hyundai Construction Equipment (HCE) says it is investing €150 million ($170m) in its Ulsan production plant in South Korea, increasing capacity by 50%, in a process that will support Hyundai’s growing presence in the global construction equipment market, while providing a manufacturing base for a new generation of electric- and hydrogen-powered equipment.

The investment, to be delivered over the next four years, will increase production at the plant by 4,800 units a year, bringing annual capacity to 15,000 excavators, wheel loaders and other construction models.

The company will merge the production and assembly functions currently in Factory 1 and Factory 2, into a single facility, simplifying the flow of processes and increasing savings by maximising efficiency. This will reduce the working hours involved in machine production and cut logistics costs throughout the supply chain, the company says. The move will also reflect HCE’s environmental, social and governance factors, using eco-friendly sub-materials when conducting interior and exterior finish work.

HCE said: “The company is increasing its market share in every region of the business, by responding to current market trends in the global construction equipment market and by looking ahead to the customer requirements of tomorrow’s infrastructure and construction projects. The company is also planning to benefit from the recent US launch of the ‘Build Back Better World (B3W)’ initiative for developing countries.”

HCE announced in 2020 that it planned to bring to market a range of excavators powered by hydrogen fuel cells, produced in cooperation with Hyundai Motors, which has its largest automotive plant in Ulsan. The company has already unveiled a range of hydrogen-powered industrial forklifts that are due to launch in 2023, as it continues to develop the low and zero-carbon emissions equipment that will be demanded by the customer of the future.

HCE CEO, Mr Choi Cheol-gon, said: “Strengthening the competitiveness of the Ulsan factory is the first challenge that needs to be addressed to reach the global top five, the goal of the construction equipment division of the Hyundai Heavy Industries group. With this investment, we will further raise our brand competitiveness by producing and delivering construction equipment with increased efficiency.”

In November 2020, HCE completed the construction of a technology innovation centre, investing €57.4 million. The new centre includes 16 laboratories, employing more than 100 researchers. It is involved in research and development projects focused on eco-friendly technologies, high efficiency and noise reduction technologies and a virtual verification system. The site also performs quality research and verification of components and completed equipment.