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Anglo American Platinum pioneers fuel cell locomotives for underground mining

In South Africa, Anglo American Platinum has unveiled a prototype fuel cell powered mine locomotive. This is the first of five fuel cell locomotives which will be tested for underground use at one of Anglo American Platinum’s mines.

Anglo American Platinum has delivered this industry leading sustainable mining project in collaboration with US-based Vehicle Projects, Trident South Africa, and Battery Electric.

Vehicle Projects is the prime contractor, responsible for engineering design, fabrication, and testing of the fuel cell power plant and reversible metal hydride storage system. Its hybrid fuel cell power plant employs PEM fuel cell stacks supplied by Ballard Power Systems and lithium-ion batteries from K2 Energy.

Trident South Africa is providing the surface test track facility for the fuel cell locomotive integrated into a Trident 10-tonne New Era locomotive, with project integration support for the electronics from Battery Electric.

Surface testing of the fuel cell powered locomotive is planned to take place at the mine during the third quarter of 2012. After the initial testing period, the fuel cell powered locomotives will be integrated as part of a mining operation.

In 2011 Anglo American Platinum identified uses for fuel cells in its own operations. Mining locomotives were identified as an ideal opportunity, with the new technology offering an environmentally friendly and safer means of underground transportation.

‘The platinum-based hydrogen fuel cells, used to power the locomotive we are unveiling today, offer one of the most exciting opportunities for South Africa in the green economy,’ says Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive of Anglo American Plc and Chair of Anglo American Platinum Ltd.

Carroll continues: ‘We believe that with platinum at its heart, a South African fuel cell industry would support the country’s drive for jobs and help to meet its energy challenges.’

Anglo American Platinum is the world’s leading primary producer of platinum group metals. The company is collaborating with the South African government and technology partners to further explore the prospects of fuel cells as an integral part of the energy sources that contribute to a reduced carbon footprint.

The Platinum Group Metals Development Fund established by Anglo American Platinum is working towards expanding industrialisation and beneficiation of platinum group metals (PGMs). The fund works in partnership with innovators and entrepreneurs in PGM technologies, and has identified opportunities in fuel cell technology.

Anglo American Platinum is also working with the Departments of Mineral Resources and Science & Technology to encourage and support greater local beneficiation of platinum.

The partnership with government seeks to understand and highlight the key levers to the development of the fuel cell industry, as well as develop a roadmap for successful implementation. This collaboration is intended to enable the development of a local fuel cell manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and servicing industry which will be globally competitive.

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