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Can a Carbon-Emitting Iron Ore Tycoon Save the Planet?

By October 21, 2021December 17th, 2021No Comments

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Can a Carbon-Emitting Iron Ore Tycoon Save the Planet?

Oct 21, 2021 • New York Times

Andrew Forrest made a mining fortune. Now he wants to lead a climate change revolution — his company (FFI) has set an ambitious goal of supplying over 15 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2030, more than the entire world currently produces

In August 2021, Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest met with miners and mechanics working at Fortescue Mining Company’s Cloudbreak Mine in Pilbara, Australia to explain that Fortescue, the Australian company he founded, would no longer just extract and ship 180 million tons of iron ore, the raw material for steel. It would zero out its own carbon emissions and become a renewable energy powerhouse.

Fortescue made $10.3 billion in profit during 2020 by extracting iron ore and selling it mostly to Chinese steel makers. Along the way, the company burned through 700 million liters of diesel and released 2.2 million tons of greenhouse gases — more than some small countries. Dr. Forrest had come to the Cloudbreak mine to paint a cleaner portrait. He told the workers that when they reached their rocking chairs in retirement, they’d tell their grandchildren that they had helped change the world.

Turning promises into tangible results — that would be the tough part. His company employs 15,000 people and is worth more than $30 billion. He could lose it all if his plan to decarbonize by 2030 and diversify into energy goes wrong. He is essentially gambling with the stable mining company that has made him one of Australia’s richest men. He wants it to become a high-tech start-up producing five times more renewable energy than the Australian power grid and selling hydrogen to the world’s factories and mills.

The iron and steel sector emits around 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide (more than all of the world’s cars). And unlike coal, it can’t be phased out unless we no longer want new appliances or buildings. Wrenching transformation is really the only option if international climate goals are to be met.

Continue to full article on New York Times