Rio Tinto [RIO:LN] announced its plans to construct a hydrogen plant in Gladstone, Queensland in collaboration with Sumitomo Corporation [8053:JP] of Japan, as reported by Reuters on July 11. The objective of this endeavor is to reduce carbon emissions at the Yarwun alumina refinery, which is one of Rio Tinto’s most carbon-intensive operations. By implementing this trial technology, the mining company aims to address the emissions generated by the sector, which contribute up to 3% of Australia’s total emissions. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will support the program with a funding contribution of AUD32.1m (USD21.48m) out of the AUD111.1m (USD74.58m) required for testing lower-carbon alumina refining.
The hydrogen plant is anticipated to have a positive impact on Yarwun’s environmental footprint, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 3,000 metric tons per year while also producing around 6,000 metric tons of alumina annually. The project will involve the construction of a 2.5-megawatt on-site electrolyser, which will supply hydrogen to the Yarwun refinery. If successful, this initiative has the potential to serve as a model for global adoption of the technology. Sumitomo will be responsible for owning and operating the electrolyser, providing hydrogen to Rio Tinto. With an annual hydrogen production capacity exceeding 250 metric tons, the electrolyser will contribute to Rio’s exploration of the viability of using hydrogen in calcination, a high-temperature process involved in alumina production.