Why is Twiggy risking life and limb flying around with COVID?

Don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do, at AFR:

Andrew Forrest contracted the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus while globe-hopping in pursuit of renewable energy projects for his Fortescue Metals Group and spent several days in a Swiss hospital receiving high-level care.

Why is Australia’s richest man risking life and limb flying around with COVID, you might rightly ask? After all, he’s never been richer. Surely, a relaxing stint on a private island would make more sense?

The answer has major national interest implications.

Twiggy is Australia’s most successful businessman…ever. By a long way. Made so by China. He’s doing this because he knows the writing is on the wall for the Chinese relationship and for iron ore.

That writing says a few things loud and clear:

  • The Australia/China relationship is all but over.
  • The current iron ore boom is short term and he needs to diversify.
  • The longer-term prospects for iron ore are even worse, not because China will cut off Australia, but because China’s great catch-up growth period is winding down. Development economics (and Xi Jinping) knows this full well as the Chinese investment-led model has run out of productive investment and is only persisting now because the CCP needs high growth to sustain its legitimacy, not because it makes any sense.
  • Finally, Twiggy no doubt realises that what this means in the long term is that to remain in power the CCP will turn to external hostility and nationalism at home as its new, and considerably more toxic, social contract with Chinese peoples. Hence Hong Kong, wolf warriors etc.

Australia should do exactly what Twiggy Forrest is doing. Diversify away from China with a bullet. We should also do so with a huge green power push, as well as reform agenda that restores our industrial base. To wit, at the AFR:

Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest says the time is right for Australia to develop its own big steel making industry using the nation’s vast iron ore resources and emerging green technologies.

Dr Forrest said Fortescue, which ships almost all its iron ore to customers in China, would start building Australia’s first “green steel” pilot plant this year and a commercial-scale plant within the next few years.

He said capturing even 10 per cent of the world’s steel market could create more than 40,000 jobs in Australia, and that was more than enough to replace those set to be lost with the demise of the coal industry.

Dr Forrest revealed the Fortescue steel-making plans in the first installment of the Boyer lecture series for the ABC due to go to air on Saturday.

No chance of that with ScoMo, sadly. Nor with Labor, who will simply put us back on the path to occupation.

Twiggy will be fine. We’re going to have to do it the hard way.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. That’s a fine and telling point. The richest man from Oz doesn’t put his life on the line unless he has the wind up him. Every policy maker in the country will see the logic of that argument. Well played MB.

  2. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Property council screaming for more immigration
    Where will they come from ?….occupation it is .

  3. I believe the iron ore price/boom will last much longer than expected as china stockpiles it for continued warships and armament construction. When the Pacific conflict starts in 5 years they know ongoing supplies will be cut off.

    • The reason we dominated was volume. Without the demand for huge volumes they don’t need to buy from us. A closer supplier will be adequate to Chinese needs and more strategically secure.

  4. I would have thought it said more about the risk of covid. Twiggy knows the facts, is in a high age group yet goes forth into the danger whilst the rest of us are forced to cower at home and are called all types of things including phycos extremists if we even think about fighting back.

    Triggy would rather die than be shackled by this virus. We all should have had that option, not just the rich.

  5. Private Plane

    Helicopter transfers

    Exclusive access to private lounges

    Waived through formalities


    Security detail up the Wazoo

    The elite are well versed in the art of avoiding Plebians

  6. China PlateMEMBER

    I think it could be a long bow here.
    He’s a deal maker and that’s what deal makers do.
    They don’t sit around sipping pina coladas and baking their foreskins in the sun.
    Nothing more, nothing less

  7. He is hardly risking anything, he has already had the virus. You could argue he risked it before hand but now he should be immune, or at least the chances of a repeated infection are extremely low.

    As for why he is doing all this travel, I think its exactly that. he knows china are going to cut the cord on iron as soon as they can find another source. Renewables with batteries are the future despite all protests to the contrary. The economics and political drivers are clear. He wants to get out of mining and into energy, what better time to do that than when everyone else is locked up….

  8. “s the Chinese investment-led model has run out of productive investment and is only persisting now because the CCP needs high growth to sustain its legitimacy, not because it makes any sense.”
    This sounds a lot like real estate here and yet on and on it goes.

  9. Mr SquiggleMEMBER

    Twiggy also burnt his bridges massively with ScoMo et al. Ambushing Greg Hunt at a press conference by inviting the Chinese consul general to Victoria was an extraordinary mistake. I’m not sure who would take his calls in Canberra after that

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      He has a motza of money. Not a single one, bar maybe the independents, would hesitate.

    • matthew SmithMEMBER

      Good point and also before he brought in the COVID supplies to Western Australia, at his direction Fortescue staff were actively stripping supermarkets and pharmacies of PPE. (Not widely reported). So he now has more money, but a lot less mates.

  10. Australia should do exactly what Twiggy Forrest is doing. Diversify away from China with a bullet.
    Can someone please tell me how increasing our electricity Renewables is a diversification away from China?
    Have you looked at the country of manufacture label on any of the PV solar panels being deployed in Australia (I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me but as an educated guess it is 90% Made in China)
    Batteries are a key component in any electricity system with high levels of Renewables, and guess where they’re made ?
    Power Inverters might still carry German brand names but don’t look too closely at the componentry or “place of assembly” which is apparently different to “Country of manufacture”.
    Bottom line is that at the moment we simply can’t diversify away from China because China has positioned itself well for manufacturing dominance in the second quarter of the 21st century. This sector dominance is exactly what we are seeing with companies like Huawei in the Telecommunications sector, it’s not different in the PV solar sector and no different in the Battery sector.
    But lets not let commercial reality get in the way of a good old fashioned rant.

      • I like what I see so far
        But at the moment this is little more than another attempt at hydrogen storage in Metal Hydrides
        I haven’t seen enough details about the Temperatures and Pressures required to Hydrogen Storage and Release to have an opinion about the round trip efficiency of the process.
        As far as I know the first step is Electrolysis and the last step is using a Fuel cell so it is at best 10% more efficient than compressed Hydrogen (but probably has a much lower life time cost if metal container weakening to to Hydrogen ingress is eliminated).

          • From my perspective once you drop below 40% returned energy efficiency for any storage you’re better off looking at ways to simply store the energy in a way that’s likely to be useful to you (as in stored Heat or Cold). At
            about 40% you can also utilize Compressed gas as an energy storage mechanism especially if it is likely that you can benefit from the “Cold” surfaces created when the compressed gas expands.

          • There’s no information in this document with which to assess the full cycle efficiency of the system.
            Typically charging a Metal Hydride system requires Pressures of 20 to 50 Bar and recovery of the Hydrogen requires temperatures of over 400C. So you might get back all the Hydrogen but it takes energy to pressurize the system and energy to heat the system to recover the stored Hydrogen.
            I suspect that the biggest advantage this system has is that it’s new and therefore somewhat unregulated (especially wrt Australia) so whereas storing lots of highly pressurized Hydrogen on a residential property is a big no no (without incurring lots of safety support and regulatory compliance costs) storing it in a Metal Hydride form is a complete unknown.
            I suspect it won’t remain an unknown for long, the first bush fire that results in a hydrogen containment failure and roasts a half a dozen volunteer fire fighters will result in changes to the regulatory environment wrt Residential storage of Hydrogen in Metal Hydrides.

    • well said dodgy as. These irrational rants favour more dependence on China not less. With the green hydrogen revolution I was under the impression that solar- based electrolysis of water was hellish inefficient and what happens to the massive production of oxygen?

      • From my understanding (and it has been a while since I looked at this) the Electrolysis of water results in Hydrogen production at about 70% to 75% of the calorific value of the energy deployed. Compression of this hydrogen for storage requires about another 5% to 10% of the energy. Altering the Hydrogen to combine it with Carbon or Nitrogen (Methane or Ammonia) requires about 5% of the energy.
        Using Hydrogen to make electricity is at best a 60% efficient process (using high temperature ceramic fuel cells) or about 50% efficient with low temp but more readily available Japanese Fuel cell technology.
        Add it all up and the returned energy is about 25% to 35% of the original Renewable energy.
        this is where it gets interesting because with today’s PV technology, it definitely takes more than 4 times the life time delivered energy to construct this “Hydrogen Renewables” system

      • “what happens to the massive production of oxygen?”
        It gets recombined with the hydrogen at the end use point.
        If you are worried about the levels in the atmosphere in general being effected, our massive fossil fuel binge pushing up CO2 levels doesn’t seem to have had much effect. Where do you think the O2 part comes from?

        • our massive fossil fuel binge pushing up CO2 levels doesn’t seem to have had much effect

          Oh dear

          • I think he means if 150 years of producing co2 hasn’t noticeably reduced the amount if oxygen in the atmosphere, then splitting water to create h2 and o2 won’t increase it much either.

          • This. Especially given the temporary nature of the O2 when the hydrogen is reused. Not a lot of Oxygen in the coal or oil we’ve been burning for centuries, unlike the water which provides just the right amount under electrolysis funnily enough.

            I guess being a climate change evangelist doesn’t require an actual understanding of high school chemistry.

  11. Those older than 50 can remember BHP hot briquetted steel where I think they lost $6 bill. Also Carnegie, Garnaut and someone else sprouting adding value to iron ore in the 80s when Australia still had an industrial base. Australia is a small market base with imposed free trade developed as a policy by academics and intellectuals who never ran a business successfully and long distances to any substantial market. Twiggy failed when he attempted to add value with nickel but succeeded massively with resources and China boom. Good luck to him but be careful of hubris and over-reach. Does Australia manufacture solar wafers? or high level batteries?

    • That he isn’t actually risking life or limb all that much. That couldn’t possibly be so, could it. It would mean that the restrictions placed on us are a massive overreaction.