Queensland resources sector embraces potential for hydrogen to lower emissions

8 April 2021

More than 60 percent of CEOs surveyed for a new report on Queensland’s resources sector are considering hydrogen-related business opportunities, with 10 percent already committed to hydrogen projects.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said more than 30 percent of member CEOs who responded to a recent sentiment survey believe hydrogen will provide an opportunity to reduce emissions in their own business, and a further 30 percent think hydrogen could help grow their business.

Mr Macfarlane said the results published in the QRC’s latest State of the Sector report show resources companies are actively looking at new technologies such as hydrogen as a way to reduce emissions to address the challenge of climate change.

“While there is a way to go before green hydrogen can be considered a commercially viable energy source in Queensland, the research, development and commercialisation work underway is very promising,” he said.

“The State Government’s decision to establish a Ministry for Hydrogen Industry Development and a Ministerial Energy Council also shows it’s serious about encouraging industry to invest in renewable technologies like hydrogen, so I think we’re all moving in the right direction.

“The QRC looks forward to sharing the strong interest of our members in hydrogen, as part of the energy mix, in our discussions with the Council.

“The good news for Queensland is that the unique ingredients that make our state a global minerals and energy powerhouse are ideally suited to support a thriving hydrogen export industry,” he said.

“Queensland has around 300 days of sunshine a year, we’re close to large export markets in Asia, and we have a proud history of co-existing with other regional industries.

“Queensland’s resource industry already has the essential skills base and strong safety culture that can drive the state’s hydrogen sector forward on a large scale.”

Mr Macfarlane said research into how to safely and economically add hydrogen into the global energy mix is well underway, with mining companies already heavily involved in trialling hydrogen for industrial use.

Current projects involving QRC member companies include:

  • Anglo American has been working with global energy company ENGIE to develop the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck, which is expected to match or exceed the performance of its diesel equivalent with the benefits of cleaner air, less noise and lower maintenance costs
  • Glencore’s Raglan nickel mine in northern Quebec has run on a micro-grid powered by an Arctic-rated wind turbine generator connected to a hydrogen energy storage unit since 2015
  • Last year Hatch, Anglo American, BHP and Fortescue formed a Green Hydrogen Consortium to look at ways to use green hydrogen to decarbonise their operations globally

Mr Macfarlane said the latest State of the Sector report highlighted the continuing resilience and adaptability of Queensland’s resources industry in the face of the global pandemic.

“In spite of all the challenges we’ve faced, mining and gas jobs in Queensland increased by 15 percent over the 12 months to February 2021 according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics’ figures, which means jobs supported by our state’s resources sector would now be well over 420,000,” he said.

“24 percent of our CEOs are also planning to increase employment at their Queensland operations over the next 12 months, with half expecting to increase their workforce by more than 25 percent.

“This is a huge vote of confidence in our sector which benefits every Queenslander through a stronger state economy and more jobs.”

The QRC is Queensland’s peak representative body for coal, metal and gas explorers, producers and suppliers across the resources sector. It contributes one in every five dollars to the Queensland economy, sustains one in six Queensland jobs, supports more than 15,000 businesses and contributes to more than 1,200 community organisations across the state – all from 0.1 percent of Queensland’s land mass.