Australian Mining Magnate in the Hotseat for World’s Largest Hydro Project

By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
June 15, 2021 Updated: June 16, 2021

One of Australia’s wealthiest individuals, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, is in the hot seat to develop the world’s largest hydroelectric project in central Africa.

On Wednesday, the mining magnate’s company, Fortescue Metals Group, confirmed discussions were already underway between Forrest and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government.

Under current arrangements, Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has been granted exclusive rights to develop the massive US$80 billion Grand Inga development (pdf). Any interested parties keen to invest or participate in the project have been invited to deal with FFI.

Grand Inga contains seven potential hydroelectric power stations and could generate over 40,000 megawatts of electricity to power substantial populations of the African continent.

If completed, the project will eclipse the combined electricity generation of the Three Gorges in China and Itaipu in South America.

However, the DRC has had a troubled track record in obtaining finance for the development. The World Bank cancelled involvement in the project in 2016 after the government decided to “take the project in a different strategic direction.”

According to Forrest, “We have a number of parties highly interested in supporting our projects, and Fortescue will invest on behalf of itself and its supporters over $100 billion developing the top hydro, solar, and geothermal sites in Africa.”

“Fortescue will take each project through to bankable feasibility approval where there are an array of international investors and lenders willing to participate in the green energy revolution,” he told the Australian Financial Review.

Forrest has been on the hunt for large-scale renewable projects after announcing in November that he was pushing to transition his mining company into a green energy giant.

Throughout August to December last year, Forrest—along with a team of 41 people—embarked on a four-month tour spanning 47 countries in search of hydro, solar, wind, and other renewable projects.

Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng