Fortescue Mining  has announced it has ordered a feet of zero emission hydrogen fuel cell powered coaches to transport  personnel at its Christmas Creek mine in the Pilbara of WA, engaging hydrogen mobility and clean energy company, Hyzon Motors to power the hydrogen fuel cell-powered coaches as part of Fortescue’s commitment to accelerating emissions reduction in their mining operations.

The vehicles will be a direct replacement for traditional diesel coaches and marks a first for fuel cell powered coaches which have previously generally been deployed on city cycles, where average speeds are much lower. Hyzon says higher powered fuel cells, which are typically deployed in trucks, will be used to ensure suitable performance from the hydrogen coaches which truck and Bus News understands will be based on newly released BLK electric coaches.

Soon after announcing the contract win Hyzon also announced it has appointed a local company, HDrive as its Australian and NZ distributor.

Hydrogen is emerging as a crucial component of the future energy landscape, with the heavy transport and equipment sector becoming a key target for the implementation of clean energy alternatives by the mining industry.

Craig Knight, the co-founder of Hyzon Motors, said that it was an honour to be entrusted with the important step in the decarbonisation journey being undertaken by a leading global mining company.

“Hyzon Motors is committed to deploying not only zero emission vehicles, but also the most reliable vehicles operating in the Pilbara region of Western Australia,” said Knight.

Knight also said that the appointment of HDrive  is an important  step in making hydrogen fuel cell powered commercial vehicles available to the Australian market, and the expertise and knowledge of the HDrive team will be invaluable in specifying the right vehicles for particular applications.

“HDrive and Jason Pecotic played a key role in identifying and winning  the Fortescue contract and we look forward to sealing many more deals for hydrogen fuel cell commercials vehicles in Australia in future,” said Knight.

HDrive CEO Jason Pecotic said  the company’s appointment as the Australian and New Zealand distributor for Hyzon Motors will mean Australian operators will be able to access the latest and most advanced zero emission hydrogen fuel cell technology to power electric commercial vehicles.

“The Fortescue Metals contract will see the latest technology BLK electric coaches equipped with Hyzon’s most advanced heavy duty truck fuel cells to meet the difficult and testing conditions the coaches will have to deal with in the rugged Pilbara environment,” said Pecotic.

“Local expertise and knowledge combined  with experience in sourcing and specifying vehicles for commercial operations means HDrive is ideally placed to deliver the best hydrogen fuel cell solutions for specific operating situations,” he said.

“The BLK coaches which will be supplied to Fortescue are newly developed, dedicated electric coaches which will use the Hyzon hydrogen fuel cells to charge the vehicle’s batteries, and are not  a retro fit diesel coach or a glider chassis delivered without a power train, ” he added.

“HDrive is able to work with Hyzon and vehicle makers to integrate hydrogen fuel cells to power the latest technology electric buses and trucks,” said Jason.

Fortescue’s deputy CEO, Julie Shuttleworth,  said that Fortescue’s history of developing and adopting innovation and technology has been key to achieving its industry-leading cost position and the company is applying this technology-first strategy to its hydrogen initiatives to ensure it remains at the forefront of the emerging industry.

“Fortescue’s mobile fleet represents around 400 to 450 million litres of diesel consumption per year and presents a significant opportunity for hydrogen to be used as a replacement fuel source to accelerate emissions reduction and diversify our energy mix,” Ms Shuttleworth said.

Heavy transport was identified as one of the most promising applications for hydrogen in Australia’s “National Hydrogen Strategy”, which was commissioned by the COAG Energy Council in November 2019 and was also highlighted as highly impactful by the “Hydrogen for Transport” study commissioned by the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to investigate the factors in establishing hydrogen as a ubiquitous fuel in Australia by 2030.

Hyzon Motors, is based in New York with operations in Australia, Asia and Europe, and has recently unveiled Hyzon Motors Europe, with fuel cell trucks currently being built in the Netherlands for European markets, while the Australian subsidiary will import fully-built trucks and buses, while it says its medium term goal is to build sufficient demand for fuel cell commercial vehicles within Australia to justify local assembly of trucks and buses powered by hydrogen.