May 21, 2024


It's the Technology

Anglo American ore-hauling truck

Anglo American follows through on $200M combination agreement with First Mode – GeekWire

Anglo American ore-hauling truck
Anglo American’s first zero-emission haul truck was unveiled in May. (Anglo American Photo)

Seattle-based First Mode and the Anglo American mining company have signed a binding agreement to combine First Mode with Anglo American’s nuGen effort to develop a zero-emission system for hauling ore.

The transaction, which is expected to close next month, values the newly combined business at around $1.5 billion and includes a $200 million equity injection from Anglo American.

The outlines of the business combination plan were first announced in June. At that time, Anglo American said the terms of the agreement were non-binding, and the financial details weren’t released.

First Mode is an engineering company that initially focused on providing expertise for space projects such as NASA’s Perseverance rover mission and the Psyche mission to a metal-rich asteroid. But in recent years, it’s devoted increasing attention to carbon-reduction technologies for heavy industry.

The company provided the hydrogen-fueled hybrid power plant for Anglo American’s nuGen mining truck, which made its debut in South Africa this year as the world’s largest zero-emission vehicle.

“First Mode was founded in 2018 with the goal of building the barely possible,” Chris Voorhees, First Mode’s president and CEO, said today in a news release. “We have done just that, and our mission is now to rapidly decarbonize heavy industry by dramatically reducing our customers’ greenhouse gas emissions. I can’t imagine a team better suited to this urgent challenge.”

When the transaction closes, Anglo American will become a majority shareholder of First Mode, with the balance of shares continuing to be held by First Mode employees. Voorhees will become the chief product and technology officer for the combined business, overseeing the company’s global product and technology development from offices in Seattle. Julian Soles, Anglo American’s head of technology development, will take over as First Mode CEO, and will be based at First Mode’s new headquarters in London.

“The First Mode mission is much bigger than a single haul truck,” Soles said. “Mining is how the world obtains the materials needed for the clean energy transition, and it is where the carbon footprint starts. This is where the First Mode solution begins; starting at the source, in mining, to replace diesel and accelerate the clean energy transition.”

Anglo American’s investment is meant to facilitate the rapid global growth of First Mode, including development of production facilities in Seattle and new proving grounds in Centralia, Wash. The added capital will also support staffing goals worldwide and allow First Mode to widen its corporate footprint in Perth, Australia.

Upon closing, First Mode will enter into an agreement to supply several nuGen systems to Anglo American. The project will include the retrofit of about 400 ultra-class haul trucks with First Mode’s hybrid powerplant, plus the provision of infrastructure for hydrogen production, refueling and battery recharging.