My latest investigation in Declassified Australia is about one of Australia’s richest men, Andrew Forrest, and his attempt to develop green hydrogen in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest wants to make himself a champion of ‘green energy’ by building an US$80 billion mega-dam to develop ‘green’ hydrogen in one of the world’s poorest and war-ravaged countries.
The Fortescue Future Industries’ plans, if they go ahead, are feared to have significant irreversible social and environmental impacts on indigenous people and communities.
Local land-owning communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who would welcome development and cheaper power, have already come up against the project’s secrecy. They say they are being sidelined and divided, and their voices and community needs prevented from being heard.
Fishing communities, that depend on the river planned to be dammed, are already suffering water level drops from increased drought. It seems fixing the world’s climate change problems with green hydrogen will not be victim-free. Green hydrogen has become a multi-billion dollar gamble by some of the world’s biggest investors and polluting miners.
Declassified Australia has been told by sources in the DRC that locals in the affected areas have been left in the dark about the company and government’s intentions. They’ve been given no guarantees of support or relocation and they fear having their land taken away.
The parallels with Fortescue’s impact on indigenous land-owners in Western Australia are alarming. In 2017, the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara area, following a years-long fight against Forrest’s plans for massive new iron ore mines, won a court casethat finally granted them access to their cultural sites and a guaranteed community income.
But Fortescue baulked and tried to fight them in the courts. Negotiations between the two sides broke down in 2021 and today Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Michael Woodley is still demanding compensation for mining on their land.
This latest story on Forrest in the DRC follows Declassified Australia’s recent investigation into Fortescue’s interest in mining rare minerals in Afghanistan before the Taliban took control in August 2021. The company has signed similar deals to develop green hydrogen in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.