Australian resource giant Fortescue Metals Group, one of the world’s biggest iron ore producers, has unveiled a $6.2 billion plan to transition to renewable energy by 2030. Its billionaire owner Andrew Forrest has urged other heavy industries to follow suit.
The mining major intends to quit key fossil fuel-related operations such as diesel and gas in favor of wind or solar to achieve “real zero” emissions by 2030.
Massive investments will be made in the generation of renewable energy sources to supply its mining operation, including the electrification of the railway that transports its iron ore.
Such an ambition would make Fortescue the first heavy industry of its size in the world to switch to green energy by the end of the decade.
Fortescue’s chairman, Andrew Forrest, is certain that global warming poses risks, warning that heavy industries need to take action quickly as “climate change continues to worsen.”
Other major resources companies, including Rio Tinto, are also investing in wind and solar projects to power their iron ore mines in Western Australia.
Tristan Edis, the director of analysis and advisory of Green Energy Markets, a research and consultancy company, says Fortescue’s plan will set the standard.
“Where this is probably the next advancement is that they are talking about re-powering absolutely everything; the trucks, the rail, not just their standard electricity supplies,” Edis said. “That is really where this is quite extraordinary.”
Australia recently passed a climate policy that aims to cut the nation’s emissions by 43% by 2030 and to achieve a net-zero target by 2050. However, the Albanese government has ruled out banning new coal and gas projects.
Most of Australia’s electricity is generated by fossil fuels, which also contribute significantly to the country’s export revenue.
Australia’s reliance on coal and gas has made the country one of the world’s highest per capita greenhouse emitters.
Scientists have warned that global warming will exacerbate the effects of natural disasters in Australia, including floods, bushfires, droughts, and heatwaves.