Hydrogen-powered freight trains on the Aurizon for Queensland

Aurizon

Aurizon and Anglo American have announced they will undertake a study into using hydrogen-powered trains for bulk freight in Queensland.

The feasibility study will explore whether hydrogen fuel cell and battery hybrid power units could be used in heavy haul freight rail operations, deputy premier and minister for State Development Steven Miles said. 

“The Feasibility Study will focus on the potential deployment of Anglo American’s hydrogen power technology on Aurizon’s Moura rail corridor and also the Mount Isa Rail corridor,” Miles said.  

“The Moura corridor operates between Anglo American’s Dawson metallurgical coal mine and the Gladstone Port, and the Mount Isa rail corridor operates between the North West Minerals Province to Townsville Port, via Aurizon’s Stuart Terminal. The announcement is more proof that Queensland is committed to capturing every section of the renewable energy value chain.”  

As part of its commitment to carbon neutral by 2040, Anglo American has taken a global lead in the development of green hydrogen solutions for its ultra-class 290 tonne payload mine haul trucking fleet.  

Anglo American’s unique combination of powertrain technologies, designed to operate safely and effectively in real-world mine conditions, will displace the use of the majority of diesel at its mining operations.  

“Imagine new economy minerals which can be used to make batteries to store renewable energy, being moved from the North West Minerals Province to Townsville, on a train powered by hydrogen made from Queensland sunshine,” Miles said. 

The project shows that renewable energy and the burgeoning hydrogen industry means more jobs, in more industries, for more Queenslanders, Minister for Energy Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said. 

“Projects like this are important because they enable domestic demand and create an ecosystem for green hydrogen,” de Brenni said. “Transport accounts for 14 per cent of emissions and is the fastest growing sector for emissions. However, we recognise that transport can lead the emissions reduction push if we move quickly with initiatives like this one. 

“The Palaszczuk government welcomes today’s announcement as it is making sure Queenslanders and local businesses are at the front of the queue building the skills needed for the hydrogen industry and the thousands of jobs it will create.” 

Tony O’Neill, technical director of Anglo American, said the agreement with Aurizon marks the first time their hydrogen power technology could be tested beyond the existing mine haul truck program.  

“Displacing our use of diesel is critical to eliminating emissions at our sites and along our value chain. We believe that our innovative hydrogen-led technology provides a versatile solution, whether for trucks or trains or other forms of heavy duty transport,” he said.  

Aurizon is Australia’s largest rail freight company, with the decarbonisation of its supply chains at the centre of its target to reach net zero operational emissions by 2050. Aurizon has also commenced research & development for battery-powered trains with several industry parties and Australian universities. 

“Hydrogen offers enormous opportunity in decarbonising and continuing to improve the competitiveness of Australia’s export supply chains,” Aurizon managing director and CEO Andrew Harding said.  

“This is especially true for bulk products underpinning the Australian economy including minerals, agricultural products and fertilisers, industrials and general freight.” 

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