The world’s largest hydrogen truck was launched at a platinum mine in South Africa. The Mining giant Anglo American unveiled the 220-tonne truck, said it is the first fleet that will replace the firm’s diesel-powered trucks.
The truck uses two-megawatt hydrogen fuel cells to haul up to 290 tonnes of ore. It was displayed at Mogalakwena mine, around 250 kilometers from Johannesburg.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “What we are launching is not merely an impressive piece of machinery, it is the genesis of an entire ecosystem powered by hydrogen”
Alex Tumisang Lekgau, the first licensed hydrogen truck operator and operator of the largest one in the world used eight months to train to use the truck, a vehicle that can be compared in size to a small house.
He volunteered to be the first to operate it. He was tested in August 2021 and also passed the global test to become the sole operator of the truck, which he also helped build. His tests included modules and simulation.
“Being the first in Africa to operate and work on this machinery is a great opportunity to grow my career in the world of hydrogen operations. It is going to be the toughest exposure and experience for me because I have to make a lot of adjustments like getting familiar with the truck and utilising the new driving skills and being accustomed to the lifestyle,” he said.
Before he started work at Anglo American in 2018, Lekgau studied engineering at the Capricorn TVET College. “Before being licensed I was doing major repairs, cable routing and installation of various components. I was also encouraging safe work processes by issuing the correct protecting equipment to my colleagues and I also managed the storeroom and kept good housekeeping on site,” said Lekgau.
In the years to come, he would like to be a hydrogen truck safety facilitator to teach others how to use the machinery. For now, he is elated to be part of new technology.
“Working for engineering control techniques is a great feeling for me because I am meeting with goal-driven and hardworking people who are willing to help and are kind…that is why I am flexible with the working hours and know I am going to be with people who I love being with.”
The launch of the latest hydrogen-powered truck is, therefore, “a gigantic leap for South Africa’s hydrogen future economy,” Ramaphosa said