Australian iron ore miner Fortescue plans global green energy push

(Reuters) – Australian iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group FMG.AX is embarking on an expansion into renewable energy, aiming to provide low-cost green energy globally, its founder and Chairman Andrew Forrest said on Wednesday.

Forrest, Australia’s second-richest person, said the company has so far committed about A$1 billion ($731 million) to the decarbonisation project out to 2023 through its unit, Fortescue Future Industries.

“We are building a portfolio of renewable assets, energy producing assets around the world,” Forrest told investors at the miner’s annual general meeting.

“With scale and innovation, we will be able to ramp up supply of green hydrogen and green ammonia to deliver low cost energy reliably at industrial scale to customers all over the world,” he said speaking via videolink from Paraguay.

Hydrogen and ammonia fuel cells are set to be used in transport and shipping, ammonia in fertiliser and hydrogen also in steel making, he said.

Investments are also planned in hydropower and geothermal power.

Fortescue executives have visited 23 countries and have 24 more to see as it shortlists partner countries to develop its renewable energy investments, Forrest said.

Fortescue, which has committed its own operations to be carbon neutral by 2040, has been accumulating licences and patents over the past five years to further it plans, he said.

The company’s initial target would be to have 235 gigawatts of installed energy capacity, which would be financed conservatively and away from Fortescue’s balance sheet, he said.

Forrest gave no timeframe for the project, which would give it more capacity than the world’s biggest renewable energy companies currently.

Forrest’s net wealth tripled over the last year to A$23 billion ($16.8 billion), from $7.9 billion, according to Australia’s Financial Review Rich List.

The world’s fourth-largest iron ore miner logged record net profit for the 2020 at $4.74 billion on a mix of high prices for iron ore and better margins for its products.