Seattle-based First Mode says it’s partnering with the global mining company Anglo American in a multi-year joint development deal that includes an $8.5 million investment in First Mode.
The newly announced deal builds on the engineering company’s previous work on a hydrogen fuel-cell power plant for Anglo American’s monster ore-hauling truck.
Anglo American is one of the world’s largest mining companies, with a portfolio that includes platinum-group metals, copper and iron ore, and diamond mines. Its operations are spread out from South Africa to Western Australia.
Mining isn’t exactly an environmentally friendly industry, but Anglo American is pursuing an initiative called FutureSmart Mining that’s aimed at reducing its environmental footprint. The hydrogen-powered vehicle that First Mode is working on could become one of the largest zero-emissions vehicles on Earth.
First Mode was founded in 2018 by veterans of Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining venture that fizzled out. Much of First Mode’s work has to do with supporting space projects such as NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars and the Psyche mission to a metal-rich asteroid. But the partnership with Anglo American signals that First Mode is serious about addressing earthly engineering challenges as well.