‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s plan to free 2.5m from slavery

Billionaire mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest says he has a plan to free 2.5 million people from slavery in Pakistan.

It’s not the first time the chairman and largest shareholder of iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) has shown his generosity, and probably won’t be the last.

Announcing the deal in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, where world leaders and 80 billionaires are meeting for the World Economic Forum, Mr Forrest says the agreement with the Pakistani state of Punjkab will give it access to an Australian technology invention that converts lignite coal into diesel.

Lignite or brown coal as it is more commonly known, is relatively uneconomic given its low heat content, but could be perfectly suited for conversion into fuel and allow the state of Punjab to become energy independent.

Mr Forrest says the technology, developed by Curtin University, has the potential to be cost-effective and is already proved.

“Punjab has literally hundreds of billions of tonnes of equivalent barrel of oil energy in their lignite”, said Mr Forrest.

As part of the agreement with Mr Forrest’s Walk Free Foundation, Pakistan has agreed to introduce laws to cut the practice of slavery through indenture, debt or inheritance.

Mr Forrest and his wife are also members of ‘The Giving Pledge’, a campaign where the world’s billionaires commit to giving away most of their wealth to charity. He has also invested millions of dollars in Aboriginal employment initiatives in Australia.

He will be hoping that the recent slide in the iron ore price, which recently hit six-month lows at around US$124 a tonne, comes to a halt and reverses course.

His company Fortescue, along with the likes of junior miners BC Iron (ASX: BCI), Atlas Iron (ASX: AGO), Arrium (ASX: ARI) ex-OneSteel and Mount Gibson Iron (ASX: MGX) are higher cost producers compared to the likes of Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) and Brazilian giant Vale.

Foolish takeaway

Good on you Twiggy! You deserve the plaudits coming to you for the Pakistani deal, as well as other charitable moves you have made. For you and retail shareholders in the iron ore juniors, we hope the iron ore price recovers, or at least doesn’t fall much further.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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