Argentina’s government said that Andrew Forrest is contemplating a US$8.4 billion (A$11.17 billion) “green hydrogen” investment after a meeting between the mining mogul and President Alberto Fernandez.
Forrest, whose iron ore business Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) is aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2030, is a big proponent of green hydrogen, a zero-carbon fuel produced by electrolysis with renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
While the technology is currently more expensive than competing fuels, many see it as a clean alternative to fossil fuels in areas where decarbonization is difficult.
FMG plans to build the project in the province of Ro Negro with the goal of manufacturing green hydrogen on a large scale, with the government of Argentina estimating that more than 15,000 direct employment would be created.
“By 2030, it is projected that Ro Negro will be a global green hydrogen export hub,” the ministry stated.
“It is our country’s most significant overseas investment in the previous 20 years.”
Mr. Forrest and President Fernandez met on the margins of the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, according to the government.
At a press conference with government officials, Agustin Pichot, the Latin America president of Fortescue Future Industries — FMG’s green energy subsidiary — claimed the project will be one of the company’s most important worldwide.
“A few months ago, we signed a memorandum of understanding, and now we’re talking about an investment of roughly $8 billion,” he stated.
FMG will examine local resources such as wind, which it uses as its principal source of energy for manufacturing. If all goes according to plan, public consultations and other building work will commence.
For the years 2022 to 2024, a US$1.2 billion (A$1.6 billion) pilot stage aimed at producing 35,000 tons of green hydrogen is planned, followed by a US$7.2 billion (A$9.57 billion) first production stage aimed at producing roughly 215,000 tons – enough to power 1.6 million households.