First Mode cuts workforce

Staff reporter

US-based First Mode, the hydrogen fuel-cell mining vehicle company controlled by Anglo American, is cutting about 20% of its workforce. The company’s total headcount, including at its operations in Australia, England, South Africa and Chile, was nearly 380 at the end of 2023.

First Mode CEO Julian Soles told employees in an email the workforce reduction was focused on the US but could be broadened.

The company has its manufacturing and testing operations in Washington state. It recently decided to retain its headquarters in Seattle rather than shift HQ to London, where Anglo American is based.

First Mode is contracted to supply hydrogen-battery powertrains for Anglo American’s global fleet of large mine haul trucks from 2025 and is meanwhile developing hybrid diesel-electric vehicle retrofit options for pilot-scale deployment this year and commercial supply in 2025. The retrofit package, recently recognised as’s Best New Technology/Innovation in our Global Mining Technology Awards, is designed to enable future fuel-cell or battery-electric truck reconfiguration.

“This is the year that we deliver commercial products to our customer sites,” Soles said in his note to employees.

“It is also when we finalise our transformation from an engineering services firm to a global decarbonisation product company.”

First Mode is about to officially open a 3700-square-metre factory in Seattle to produce its power systems.

“With strong customer interest, HEV has a clear commercial path forward,” Soles said.

“By comparison, the nascent global green hydrogen economy is not yet where our customers need it to be for us to justify most of our FCEV [fuel-cell electric vehicle] spend and scope in 2024.”


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