Anglo American explores hydrogen valley opportunity in South Africa

South Africa is home to crucial raw materials necessary for making electrolysers and fuel cells

Anglo American will collaborate to develop a hydrogen valley in the platinum group metals-rich Bushveld geological area in South Africa. It has agreed to conduct a feasibility study in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), Engie, the South African National Development Institute (Sanedi) and Bambili Energy.

The Hydrogen Valley is one of the first projects that as in support of the Platinum Valley initiative. It will identify concrete project opportunities for hydrogen activities to boost economic growth, create jobs, increase value-addition to its platinum reserves, and reduce the carbon footprint.

The proposed hydrogen valley will be spread about 835 km from Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals (PGMs) mine near Mokopane in Limpopo province to Johannesburg and the south coast at Durban. The regional PGMs industry will play a vital role in the hydrogen valley, given that they are used in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis and fuel cells.

Anglo American is already involved in renewable hydrogen production technology at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine and developing hydrogen-powered fuel cell mine haul trucks, where Engie will supply hydrogen to the truck.

Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American’s PGMs business, said, “Our integrated approach includes investing in new technologies, supporting entrepreneurial projects and advocating for policy frameworks that enable a supportive long-term investment environment for hydrogen to deliver that potential.”

Dr Phil Mjwara, DSI Director-General, said, “The hydrogen valley is among the projects that will be implemented in partnership with the private sector to support the Platinum Valley Initiative, which is aimed at supporting small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) to take advantage of opportunities in the green economy in support of a just transition.”

Sebastien Arbola, Engie Executive VP of Thermal Generation and Energy Supply activities, said, “We believe that renewable hydrogen is key to decarbonising hard-to-abate industries and will play a fundamental role in the global economy of tomorrow.”

Zanele Mavuso Mbatha, CEO of Bambili Energy, said: “This collaboration is illustrative of Bambili’s view that a public-private partnership is critical in developing this industry in the South African economy.”

This collaboration is in line with the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap, which was launched in 2020 to integrate hydrogen into the economy by capitalising on its PGMs resources and renewable energy potential. More recently, South African President Mr Ramaphosa said in February this year to establish a Platinum Valley and work on hydrogen applications to develop an integrated hydrogen ecosystem.

Bambili Energy remained pivotal role in ensuring that the HySA catalyst and membrane electrode assemblies are integrated into commercial products in OEMs such as Horizon and Element One. The HySA centres of competence will provide expertise and relevant intellectual property to be demonstrated in the Hydrogen Valley.

Engie Impact will conduct the study and will identify potential opportunities to build hydrogen hubs for green hydrogen production at scale. Engie has provided co-funding for the techno-economic analysis that will be conducted on identified hubs within the Hydrogen Valley corridor. Sanedi will manage the input of human resources and capabilities from the implementing agencies, such as HySA Infrastructure, HySA Catalysis and HySA Systems. The DSI will engage other government departments that are critical to the successful implementation of the Platinum Valley.

Shahkar Ali

Shahkar is the regional representative for Asia covering the hydrogen industry for H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact him directly via email or follow him on social media.
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