Japan’s Mitsui formalises First Mode connection

Staff reporter

Japan’s Mitsui & Co has formalised a five-year association with non-diesel heavy vehicle power-train developer First Mode with a “strategic alliance” said to be aimed at speeding heavy industry’s “adoption of low-carbon and zero-emissions product solutions at scale”.

Mitsui describes itself as a global trading and investment company.

It co-owns several coal mines in Australia, and copper interests in South America, with Anglo American, First Mode’s controlling shareholder.

Mitsui also owns 38% of Komatsu Australia and its corporate finance arm. Australia is a major market for Komatsu mine trucks and other heavy equipment.

US-based First Mode is commercialising its battery-electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell EV drivetrains with Anglo as heavy financial backer and lead mining customer.

“Mitsui recognises First Mode as a pioneer in decarbonisation solutions for the mining sector, particularly in the replacement of diesel fuel,” Mitsui Coal & Carbon Solution Division general manager, Ken Ito said this week.

“Our relationship with them dates back to 2020, when we first explored the possibility of testing their early-stage fuel cell innovation at one of our mine sites.

“As such, we are eager to support their growth by leveraging our presence in the mining, mobility, and other heavy industries.

“Moreover, we will utilise our capabilities in renewable energy, green hydrogen, and hydrogen-derived synthetic fuels, along with our extensive network and investments in the clean energy sector, which includes batteries and hydrogen-related solutions like storage tanks.”

First Mode says “typical” mine heavy-haul trucks burn circa-one million litres of diesel fuel per year and remain in continuous operation for 10-15 years.

“Across First Mode’s customer market, over 13,000 of these trucks are in global operation, releasing 35 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually; the equivalent emissions of 8 million passenger cars per year,” the company said.


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