First Mode orders more Ballard hydrogen fuel cells

‘Fuel cells … moving the mining industry closer to decarbonisation’

Canada’s Ballard Power Systems will supply First Mode with 30 hydrogen fuel cells for hydrogen-battery power plants in ultra-class mining trucks. US-based First Mode is working with mining major Anglo American to retrofit more than 400 large haul trucks with its nuGen non-diesel power system.

Anglo America said in December last year it was investing US$200 million in First Mode, at a circa-$1.5 billion enterprise valuation, to enable its planned diesel fleet overhaul to start in 2024.

“Every one of the Ballard fuel cell modules that First Mode retrofits into an ultra-class haul truck means an immediate reduction in diesel fuel use and moving the mining industry another step closer to decarbonisation,” First Mode CEO Julian Soles said this week.

“Utilising hydrogen and battery technology in our nuGen systems allows our customers to achieve the best haul truck performance and range without sacrificing availability.”

First Mode plans to integrate the Ballard hydrogen fuel cell modules into its powerplants at a facility in Seattle, Washington, before their installation in ultra-class haul trucks to be operated at First Mode’s Centralia test centre in the US state.

First Mode and Ballard first partnered in 2019 to supply fuel cells for the world’s first 2MW hybrid hydrogen fuel cell and battery powerplant designed and built by First Mode in Seattle. The powerplant replaced a diesel engine on a 300-tonne-payload Komatsu 930E-4 haul truck working at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals mine in South Africa.

Ballard last month announced a deal with India’s Adani Enterprises to develop a small (55t) hydrogen fuel cell electric mining truck. The vehicle, to be powered by Ballard’s 120kW proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, would have a 200km working range, the companies said.

They are aiming for a 2023 launch.

Adani Group previously said it planned to invest more than US$50 billion over a decade in “green hydrogen and associated ecosystems” with capacity to generate 3 million tonnes a year of green hydrogen.

Ballard said it had about US$102 million of order backlog at the end of September last year.

The Nasdaq and Toronto listed company’s shares are up about 20% year-to-date, capitalising Ballard at US$1.7 billion. The stock got close to $40 early in 2021.


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