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Forrest’s Fortescue vows carbon targets for customers in green shift

Mining giant Fortescue has vowed to unveil a target next month to lower the greenhouse gases of its customers, insisting it will come with a concrete plan that sets it apart from rivals trying to “green-wash” their polluting activities.

The world’s fourth-largest iron ore miner has until now resisted pressure to follow others in the industry including BHP and Rio Tinto in taking responsibility for “Scope 3” emissions – the greenhouse gases released when customers burn or process the raw materials the miners sell.

Fortescue has doubled its dividend, resulting in a $4b windfall for founder, chairman and biggest shareholder Andrew Forrest.

Fortescue has doubled its dividend, resulting in a $4b windfall for founder, chairman and biggest shareholder Andrew Forrest.Credit:Trevor Collens

But in a reversal of its stance on Monday, Fortescue chairman and top shareholder Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest said the board was developing the framework for a Scope 3 target and would announce one by September.

Dr Forrest said Fortescue had not wanted to set such a target until it had a firm plan in place on how it would be achieved. “Setting Scope 3 targets without a strategy on how you are going to help your customers decarbonise is pretty vapid and pointless – it ticks boxes, it gets people pats on backs, all of that, but it doesn’t actually do anything,” he said.

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“As we have become confident in a plan, a strategy, that can be executed, now we can become confident that we will not join the queues of the vapid, the meaningless, and those who are green-rinsing their careers or green-washing their customers through announcing Scope 3 emissions [goals] when they have no idea whatsoever how to get their customers to go green.”

His pledge comes as Fortescue delivered a record-breaking full-year profit of $US10.3 billion ($14 billion) on the back of a stunning rally in iron ore prices, and announced it would double its dividends for the year to a total of $3.48.

Dr Forrest, who owns 36 per cent of the company, stands to receive nearly $4 billion in dividends across the year.

The bumper profit result was largely in line with expectations as iron ore reached as high as $US230 a tonne thanks to a Chinese infrastructure-building blitz fuelling demand for steel, while global iron ore supply was constrained due to disruptions dragging on output at iron ore mines in Brazil.

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