Billionaire Andrew Forrest will return to lead iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. under an overhaul of the firm’s management aimed at accelerating a push into clean energy.
Forrest, who currently helms the board of the world’s No. 4 iron ore exporter, will become executive chairman of a combined Fortescue Group and also lead the metals business for an interim period, the Perth-based company said Wednesday.
Adding further day-to-day oversight of Fortescue’s energy unit will bolster the company’s drive to produce an initial 15 million tons a year of green hydrogen by 2030, according to Forrest, who previously stepped down as the metal giant’s chief executive officer in 2005.
Former General Electric Co. executive Mark Hutchinson will become CEO of the clean energy arm, Fortescue Future Industries, the company said. Andrew Vesey, the former CEO of utility AGL Energy Ltd., will be appointed as the unit’s head of energy transitions projects.
The appointments follow the surprise hiring in March of Reserve Bank of Australia No. 2 Guy Debelle to become FFI’s chief financial officer in June.
“We will prove that going green has a fabulous and profitable future,” Forrest said in the statement. The plans will provide “significant additional value for shareholders by ramping up innovative and game changing green technologies,” he said.
Fortescue plans to have net-zero emissions, including from its steel-making customers, by 2040, setting it apart from global rivals who doubt the technology will enable such a target to be met.
The company has also said it will set aside as much as 10% of annual profit for investment in clean energy through its renewables unit and has announced a raft of projects including a proposal last week to build a green hydrogen facility near Washington State’s last operating coal plant.
Outgoing Fortescue Metals CEO Elizabeth Gaines will step down in August, after an announcement in December that she would leave the role, the company said Wednesday. The producer is continuing to search for a permanent replacement.
(By Georgina Mckay)