Rio Tinto, Sumitomo explore hydrogen pilot plant at Queensland alumina refinery

Source: Rio Tinto

August 24 (Renewables Now) - Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto Plc (LON:RIO) and Japanese trader Sumitomo Corp (TYO:8053) said they have signed a letter of intent to explore the construction of a hydrogen pilot plant at an alumina refinery of Rio Tinto in Gladstone in the Australian state of Queensland.

Sumitomo has been studying a Gladstone hydrogen plant and the partnership now focuses on Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery as the site for it.

Rio Tinto Australia chief executive Kellie Parker said the companies will explore the possibilities of hydrogen, not only for Rio Tinto’s own refinery, but for Sumitomo to supply local industry more widely.

According to Sumitomo's energy innovation initiative director Hajime Mori, the pilot plant will play a key role in establishing the recently announced Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem. In March, Sumitomo Australia, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council, Australian Gas Networks as part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group and CQUniversity Australia signed a memorandum of understanding to explore opportunities to develop this hydrogen ecosystem.

“Sumitomo has commenced the Design Study and Preliminary Master Planning to build the Gladstone hydrogen ecosystem and we will continue to work towards future hydrogen exports from Gladstone,” Mori said.

The Sumitomo agreement adds to a recently announced feasibility study, backed by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), into replacing natural gas with hydrogen in the alumina refining process at Yarwun.

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Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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