Rio Tinto and Sumitomo will collaborate to research the building of a hydrogen pilot plant at Rio’s Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone, as well as the refinery’s potential usage of hydrogen.
The pilot plant would create hydrogen for the Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem if the Yarwun hydrogen project went through, Rio announced on Tuesday.
Sumitomo signed a memorandum of understanding with Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council, Australian Gas Networks, which is part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, and CQUniversity Australia in March this year to look into the possibility of developing a hydrogen ecosystem in Gladstone. Before going on to large-scale export, the ecosystem will focus on domestic offtake and mobility solutions.
Rio’s collaboration with Sumitomo is in addition to its feasibility work with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to investigate the use of hydrogen to substitute natural gas in the Yarwun alumina refinery in order to cut emissions.
“Rio Tinto has a long relationship with Sumitomo and we are delighted to partner with them to explore the possibilities of hydrogen, not only for our own refinery, but for Sumitomo to supply industry more broadly in Gladstone,” Rio Tinto Australia CEO Kellie Parker said.
“Reducing the carbon intensity of our alumina production will be key to meeting our 2030 and 2050 climate targets. There is clearly more work to be done, but partnerships and projects like this are an important part of helping us get there.”
Sumitomo’s energy innovation initiative director Hajime Mori said the company was excited about working together with Rio as its long-term partner to develop the hydrogen project in Gladstone and working toward its company’s vision of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
“We believe the pilot plant will play a significant role in establishing the Gladstone 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.”
Queensland Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Steven Miles said Gladstone was an industrial powerhouse and this partnership presented a great opportunity for the region and for Queensland.
“This is only the beginning of a wave of international collaborations that will lead to new industries and new jobs underpinned by the supply of renewable energy,” Miles said.
“With the government’s strong commitment to creating more jobs in emerging industries, we will work to keep Queensland at the forefront of renewable hydrogen and the opportunities that come with it.”