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Andrew Forrest. Source: Reuters
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  • FMG Chairman Andrew Forrest says WA was the first choice for the Fortescue Futures Initiative (FFI) hydrogen project but the red tape kept him away
  • Dr Forrest says he proposed the major investment early on but WA’s land tenure issues held back the hydrogen plan for his home turf
  • As part of WA’s renewable budget for 2021 to 2022, the McGowan Government committed $61.5 million for investment specifically in hydrogen energy

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) Chairman Andrew Forrest said Western Australian was the first choice for the Fortescue Futures Initiative (FFI) hydrogen project, but the red tape kept him away.

Dr Forrest said he proposed the major investment early on but said WA’s land tenure issues have held back the hydrogen plan for his home turf.

WA’s Minister responsible for hydrogen projects Alannah MacTiernan said FMG’s acquisition of the land was intercepted for multiple reasons.

Moreover, Ms MacTiernan said other investors’ interests and native title to the land were an immediate complication.

“So we have to find a process that is going to be fair and not dissuade investment and also that does acknowledge what we can’t change, which is that there is native title over many of these areas,” Ms MacTiernan said.

Hydrogen helpline

As part of WA’s renewable budget for 2021 to 2022, the McGowan government had committed $61.5 million for investment specifically in hydrogen energy.

“This $61.5 million commitment will supercharge our renewable hydrogen industry, helping to stimulate local demand for hydrogen to get production projects to get off the ground,” Ms MacTiernan said.

Dr Forrest had previously talked about potential job creation if hydrogen plants were erected, naming indigenous training programs among other employment initiatives.

“If you want to develop the hundreds of thousands of (hydrogen) jobs in Western Australia … you’ve got to get past the promises and allow projects to be developed by granting tenure,” Dr Forrest said.

FMG was recently in court about tenure of FMG’s Solomon mine that is on Yindjibarndi land.

On the same account, Ms MacTiernan said WA had to update land tenure for the green energy sector.

Dr Forrest’s trepidation about tenure related red tape ultimately lead to investments in other states despite multiple opportunities for green energy growth within WA.

“Would I have preferred to have had our first (hydrogen project) in Western Australia :

“Certainly, I would have, but it wasn’t possible.”

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