Amplats invests in Dutch tech company in fuel cell drive

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Anglo American Platinum AMSJ.J said on Wednesday it had invested an unspecified amount in High-Yield Energy Technologies (HyET), a Dutch technology company, as part of its drive to promote fuel cell vehicles which require platinum catalysts.

A global push for lower-emission transport raises the prospect of weaker demand for platinum, whose biggest industrial use is in diesel vehicles. Other big miners are positioning themselves for the shift from the combustion engine by betting on lithium and cobalt used in electric vehicle batteries.

Amplats said in a statement that HyET “has developed electrochemical hydrogen compression technology that will support the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles.”

It said the highly compressed hydrogen could store more energy than conventional batteries.

“The ability to cost-effectively and reliably compress hydrogen will play an important part in accelerating the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles and other vehicles such as fuel cell powered trucks and buses,” it said.

So far the take-up of hydrogen vehicles is small, and industry experts say their wider use is years away at best, with high purchase prices and a lack of refueling stations the major barriers.

As the world’s top platinum producer, Amplats, which paid a dividend this year for the first time since 2011, is welded to the metal, which has been hard to squeeze profits from in recent years amid depressed prices and disruptions stemming from community and labour unrest.

Reporting by Ed Stoddard, editing by Louise Heavens