Advanced nickel explorer Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) is evaluating generating green hydrogen as a by-product at its proposed zero-carbon Ta Khoa nickel mine, processing and downstream refining facilities in northern Vietnam.
As part of company’s strategy to develop a zero-carbon vertically integrated operation, it is investigating the economic and environmental benefits of producing a green hydrogen.
The current pre-feasibility study requires oxygen in the proposed downstream processing plant.
According to Blackstone, the oxygen is typically produced by a conventional cryogenic oxygen plant with nitrogen as a by-product.
Blackstone is investigating using electrolysis of water to generate the oxygen, which will also produce green hydrogen as a by-product. The process is proposed to be powered with abundant renewable hydro-electric energy and water at Ta Khoa.
Green hydrogen study
In researching the viability of producing green hydrogen at Ta Khoa, Blackstone will evaluate emerging green hydrogen technologies and their applicability for the operation.
For each option, the company will undertake a trade-off assessment of the capital and operating costs compared to the environmental benefits.
Blackstone will also look into the potential of renewable hydro-electric power and water sources for the downstream plant.
Economic and sustainable option
Driving Blackstone’s down this route is its belief it could be both an economic and sustainable option.
“Green hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuel cells, is growing in favour as an alternate, complimentary technology to battery electric vehicles,” the company noted.
As part of the study, Blackstone will look at using the hydrogen it produces to fuel its concentrate road haulage fleet.
The company will also investigate integrating hydrogen fuel cell vehicles into its mining fleet.
Another possible economic benefit to the company in producing green hydrogen is selling the product to offset refinery operating costs.
“The decision to commence a green hydrogen study reflects Blackstone’s commitment to minimising its carbon footprint and producing downstream nickel products with the highest ESG credentials,” Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said.