Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has continued his land acquisition in Western Australia, purchasing another three cattle stations in the state’s north-west to generate renewable energy.
- Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries has purchased three cattle stations in northern WA
- The stations will continue to run stock, and contribute to the production of green energy
- FFI says it is looking at other parts of WA to acquire land for similar projects
Emu Creek Station in the Pilbara and Ella Valla Station in the Gascoyne have recently been sold for undisclosed amounts, with the sale of the Gascoyne’s Yalbago Station currently underway.
The properties were bought by Mr Forrest’s green energy business, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) as part of plans to decarbonise the mining billionaire’s operations by 2030.
The stations will continue to run cattle to fulfill obligations under the Western Australian Land Administration Act (1997), but the key focus will be on producing renewable energy, according to FFI director-western states Maia Schweizer.
FFI is planning to build a renewable energy hub to power Fortescue Metals Group’s Eliwana iron ore mine, about 170 kilometers west of Emu Creek and Uaroo Stations.
The hub would consist of 340 wind turbines alongside solar panels across Emu Creek and Uaroo Stations, in a development envelope of more than 65,000 hectares of land and a disturbance footprint of more than 10,000 hectares.
The wind turbines could be built in areas where cattle grazed, and the solar panels would be installed in less productive parts of the station, Ms Schweizer said.
More than 5 gigawatts of energy is expected to be produced out of the hub — enough to power an entire city.
“What the greater Perth area would be using on a really, really hot day with all of the air conditioning on would be something like the energy that we’d be hoping to generate from this development,” Ms Schweizer said.
Thalanyji native title holders have been in discussion with FFI over the plans, but did not respond to ABC interview requests.
Plans for Ella Valla and Yalbalgo Stations are still to be confirmed, with assessments of solar and wind energy production capacity on site to be undertaken.
“[Ella Valla and Yalbago Stations] are not so much supporting the decarbonisation of FMG, but they could be supporting the export of green energy in some other form, so for example green hydrogen or green ammonia,” Ms Schweizer said.
‘Looking at a number of places’
From Esperance in the south to Onslow in the north, FFI’s quickly expanding footprint is likely to grow.
Ms Schweizer said whether the company’s land acquisition was through the purchase of stations or through “adding value to an ongoing lease”, the company was considering all areas of Western Australia, including offshore.
“There’s not a lot of places in WA that we wouldn’t be looking into.”
Emu Creek’s popular station stay has been closed until further notice.
The ABC approached the former owners of Emu Creek, Ella Valla and Yalbago Stations, but they did not wish to comment on the sales.