After returning home to Perth in Western Australia, Forrest told the Australian Financial Review he had no regrets travelling the world during the height of the pandemic.
Despite being hospitalized with high-level care in a Swiss hospital for several days, he managed to complete his four-month tour, which lasted from August to December and spanned 47 countries.
He spent the journey with a core team of 41 people searching for hydro, solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects. Forrest said his intentions were to commit his Fortescue Metals Group to an investment worth billions, to surpass the success of the company’s iron ore production.
Forrest contracted the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus (novel coronavirus) from a Russian interpreter and expert who accompanied him on his trip. After she tested positive in Uzbekistan, he immediately postponed his trip as the whole team flew back to their travel base in Croatia.
At their base, Forrest was the only one to test positive and underwent isolation before being transferred to a Swiss hospital.
“I would rather have not caught COVID but it hasn’t harmed me. I’m still as fit as a fiddle but the big thing is that it enabled us to put together a suite of assets to create a supply of renewable fuels and products which could rival the fossil-fuel sector,” Forrest said.
Forrest was fortunate enough to not need a respirator and continued his work while being hospitalized. After being cleared to travel by Swiss authorities, Forrest rejoined his team and continued his tour.
Throughout his journey, luck would have him narrowly miss more life-threatening events.
His postponed plan to visit Kyrgyzstan saved him from the violence caused by protesters that occurred at the presidential palace, where he would’ve been staying.
While negotiating deals with First Vice-President Amrullah Salehin in Afghanistan, he narrowly avoided a deadly terrorist attack which claimed the lives of at least 10.
Forrest intends to shift Fortescue operations to focus more on renewable energy in the future and aims to be one of the world’s biggest energy providers.
In May, Forrest’s fortune declined by $900 million (US$693.4 million) due to the pandemic. China was the biggest buyer of Fortescue’s iron ore.
Forrest has been a vocal critic of Australia’s call for an inquiry into the source of the CCP virus, a move which has attracted criticism from China experts.