Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has launched a new platinum-based fuel cell-powered mine locomotive in South Africa.
Amplats has collaborated with Vehicle Projects, Trident South Africa and Battery Electric to launch the new vehicle, which is one of five to be tested at the Limpopo mine using fuel cell stacks from Ballard Power Systems.
The new locomotive is designed to offer a more environmentally friendly and safer means of underground transportation and the company said it aims to demonstrate the superior energy efficiency and productivity of fuel cell-powered locomotives.
Anglo American Platinum Chairman and chief executive of Anglo American Cynthia Carroll said that the platinum-based hydrogen fuel cells, used to power the locomotive the company is unveiling, provide opportunities for South Africa in the green economy.
"At Anglo American, 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," Carroll said.
According to the company, hydrogen powered fuel cell locomotives are more economical and environmentally friendly compared to the traditional rail transport.
Anglo American Platinum chief executive officer Neville Nicolau said that the new locomotives will provide the company with an opportunity to mine platinum in a more economic, energy-secure and environmentally aware manner.
"The locomotives will not require any electricity from the grid to function and will not emit noxious gases," Nicolau said.
Amplats is collaborating with the South African government and technology partners to explore how fuel cells can be an integral part in reducing the country's carbon footprint.
In addition, the company has established the Platinum Group Metals Development Fund (PGMDF) to expand industrialisation of the new technology.
In the third quarter of 2012, the company plans to conduct surface testing of the fuel cell-powered locomotive.
Upon the initial testing period the locomotives will be integrated as part of a mining operation.