Anglo American Platinum unveiled a prototype platinum-based fuel-cell-powered mine locomotive in South Africa in mid-May 2012. Surface testing of the locomotive is planned to take place during the third quarter. The industry-leading project was delivered in collaboration with Vehicle Projects, Trident South Africa and Battery Electric. After the initial testing period, the partnership will construct five fuel-cell locomotives for underground use at one of Anglo American Platinum’s mines.

“As part of Anglo American Platinum’s commitment to the development of fuel cells, in 2011 the company identified uses for fuel cells in its own operations,” the Anglo American Platinum announcement said. “Mining locomotives were identified as an ideal opportunity. Partners were identified through a global search to pioneer this development. Current original equipment manufacturers were integrated with the fuel cell developers to ensure seamless system integration.

“Anglo American Platinum, with its partners, aims to demonstrate the superior energy efficiency and productivity of fuel-cell-powered locomotives. The new technology is also believed to offer an environmentally-friendly and safer means of underground transportation.”

Neville Nicolau, CEO of Anglo American Platinum, said, “These innovative locomotives will provide us with an opportunity to mine platinum in a more economic, energy-secure, and environmentally-benign manner. The locomotives will not require any electricity from the grid to function and will not emit noxious gases.”

Anglo American Platinum is the world’s largest platinum producer. The company is collaborating with the South African government and technology partners to explore uses of fuel cell energy sources that contribute to a reduced carbon footprint.

The company and South Africa’s Departments of Mineral Resources and Science and Technology are also working to encourage and support greater local beneficiation of platinum. Among its objectives, this partnership is seeking to develop a local fuel cell manufacturing, distribution, marketing and servicing industry that will be globally competitive.