Anglo American to become majority owner of First Mode
By Chad Elmore07 December 2022
Technology company to develop clean energy system solutions for company’s mine haul trucks
First Mode, a carbon reduction company focused on heavy industry, and global mining company Anglo American have signed a binding agreement to combine First Mode and Anglo American’s nuGen zero emission haulage solution for mining and other heavy industries.
The transaction, which is expected to close in January 2023, values the newly combined business in the order of $1.5 billion and includes a $200 million equity injection from Anglo American.
Upon closing of the transaction, First Mode will enter into a global supply agreement to supply several nuGen systems to Anglo American which includes the retrofit of approximately 400 ultra-class haul trucks with First Mode’s proprietary hybrid fuel cell battery powerplant and related infrastructure. The supply agreement includes the appropriate provision of critical supporting infrastructure such as refueling, recharging, and facilitation of hydrogen production.
The roll-out of nuGen across Anglo American’s haul truck fleet over the next 15 years is subject to certain conditions and required approvals.
The transaction is a combination of creative engineering excellence and mining expertise which brings together the existing First Mode business with Anglo American’s nuGen related intellectual property, management and operational teams.
First Mode said it is now uniquely positioned to commercialize the nuGen haulage solution which intelligently incorporates new technology into mine site operations and consists of a powerplant with appropriate hybridization of hydrogen powered fuel cells and battery (depending on customer and site requirements), refueling and recharging technology, clean energy production and storage, modification of diesel electric vehicles, digital integration with mine site systems as well as ongoing services.
The investment is expected to facilitate the rapid global growth of First Mode, development of production facilities in Seattle and new proving grounds in Centralia, Wash., support staffing goals worldwide, develop a footprint in Perth, Australia, and speed the commercialization and deployment of its clean energy solutions to market.
On close, Anglo American will become a majority shareholder of First Mode, with the balance continuing to be held by First Mode employees. Current First Mode President and CEO Chris Voorhees will transition to the role of Chief Product & Technology Officer, overseeing the company’s global product and technology development from Seattle. Julian Soles, Anglo American’s head of Technology Development, will take over as First Mode CEO and be based in First Mode’s new headquarters in London.
“First Mode was founded in 2018 with the goal of building the barely possible. We have done just that and our mission is now to rapidly decarbonize heavy industry by dramatically reducing our customers’ greenhouse gas emissions. I can’t imagine a team better suited to this urgent challenge,” said Voorhees.
“The First Mode mission is much bigger than a single haul truck,” said Soles. “Mining is how the world obtains the materials needed for the clean energy transition, and it is where the carbon footprint starts. This is where the First Mode solution begins; starting at the source, in mining, to replace diesel and accelerate the clean energy transition.”
The company’s ultra-class haul truck, launched in May 2022, continues to be operated at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals mine site in South Africa. This month the truck reportedly reached a major milestone when it completed initial commissioning and was introduced into the mine’s commercial fleet operations, including pit and crusher activities.
Anglo American is a producer of diamonds (through De Beers), copper, platinum group metals, premium quality iron ore and steelmaking coal, and nickel.