Twiggy's FFI makes "ground-breaking progress"

FORTESCUE Metals Group’s green energy arm has announced it has made progress in leaps-and-bounds in its research trialling various hydrogen and ammonia-based technologies as it looks to decarbonise the miner’s operations by the end of the decade.
Twiggy's FFI makes "ground-breaking progress" Twiggy's FFI makes "ground-breaking progress" Twiggy's FFI makes "ground-breaking progress" Twiggy's FFI makes "ground-breaking progress" Twiggy's FFI makes "ground-breaking progress"

Leading by example: Gaines

Mark Tilly

Senior Journalist

Mark Tilly

Dr Andrew ‘Twiggy' Forrest laid out a vision in March for the miner's wholly owned Fortescue Future Industries to stride into the energy transition race by exporting renewable-generated ammonia and hydrogen as well as to use it to decarbonise its mining operations and as feedstock to create products like green steel and urea.

FMG told the market on Tuesday it has achieved the stretch goals it set out at the beginning of the year in trialling the use of hydrogen and ammonia in various industrial processes with company CEO Julie Shuttleworth saying the results have been "immense". 

"We set out to test the hypothesis that there was sufficient 100% renewable green energy, hydrogen, ammonia and industrial manufacturing potential for products such as green cement, green fertiliser, green iron and steel to fully satisfied the world's need," she said. 

"We have confirmed our hypothesis." 

She noted Forrest had led two overseas expeditions in the past 12 months alongside 50 urea experts, most recently signing green energy deals with Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as it looks to develop new renewable energy projects it hopes it can use to generate green hydrogen and ammonia. 

Shuttleworth said FFI's Green Team has established a major facility at Hazelmere in Perth where it has been trailing technology on hydrogen, ammonia and battery power for trains, ship engines, haul trucks and drill rigs for technology demonstration. 

"Our dedicated specialist teams have worked relentlessly to bring our own heavy industry decarbonisation into reality," she said. 

The company said they had been able to successfully combust ammonia in a locomotive fuel, with a pathway to achieve completely renewable green fuel - as it hopes to cut emissions from its iron-ore transport trains. 

It said it had completed design and construction of a combustion testing device for large marine engines, with pilot test work underway and a pathway to achieve completely renewable green shipping fuel and finalised design for a next generation ore carrier ship that would consume ammonia, with the Classification Society granting the design an Approval in Principle.  

The team has also tested battery cells to be used in Fortescue haul trucks; designed and constructed a hydrogen-powered haul truck and a hydrogen powered drill rig with systems testing underway. 

It also highlighted it had successfully produced green iron from Fortescue ores at a low temperature in a continuous flow process, with a purity of around 97%, and successfully trialled using waste from the process combined with materials to make green cement. 

FMG CEO Elizabeth Gaines said Fortescue was leading the heavy industry battle against climate change by transitioning from being a major fossil fuel importer to a significant green and renewable energy product exporter. 

"We are leading by example to decrease emissions across our operations, using our large industrial platform of operating mine sites in the Pilbara to trial and demonstrate technologies in completely renewable green hydrogen, green ammonia and green electricity," she said. 

Forrest has caught the ire of fellow Australian industrial heavyweights like Santos and Woodside, disparaging their proclamations about blue hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technologies as lies to prolong the life of fossil fuels. 

"If it is not green, i.e. renewable electricity splitting water, then it is not clean. It is a fossil fuel and as a fossil fuel they are going to brush it up as blue or pink or grey, and they are going to try to call it clean hydrogen and it is an outright lie," he told the AFR last month at the start of the APPEA conference. 

Gaines said on Tuesday the company remained committed to meeting and beating the company's target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. 

"Our great progress to date and our ongoing projects underpin Fortescue's plan to become a major renewable energy and industry product exporter," she said.  

Last month, FFI signed an option agreement with Tasmanian Ports Corporation to exclusively negotiate all land and operating access requirements for a proposed 250MW green hydrogen plant in Bell Bay.

The FMG board is due to make a final investment decision on the project later this year.

FMG shares were up 1.2% to A$23.99, a two-month high.