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Forrest fights slavery with coal deal

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Iron ore mogul Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has reached an informal deal with Pakistan which will see over two million slaves freed in return for the opportunity to generate energy.

New technology developed at WA’s Curtin University will be trialed in Pakistan, converting billions of low quality lignite coal into diesel.

In return for the technology the state has signed a separate agreement with Forrest’s Walk Free Foundation, introducing regulations aimed at eradicating slavery through debt, indenture or inheritance, The Australian reports.

Commenting on the deal Forrest said it’s a development that has the potential to both end slavery and transform Pakistan’s economy by removing the nation’s reliance on foreign fuel.

''The goal is energy independence for the Punjab and the eradication of slavery in all of the Punjab, a province of 100 million,'' Forrest said.

The Pakistani State of Punjab is the first region to commit to eradicating slavery.

The agreement will see mining specialists from Australia research commercially viable ways of using Punjab’s big lignite coal deposits.

If the researchers’ technology can be successfully implemented the low grade coal has the potential to be converted into diesel.

Last year Forrest called on organisations to audit their supply chains, saying modern day slavery is rife and companies need to ensure they aren’t unintentionally supporting slave labour.

At the time Forrest said he was shocked to discover slave labour was present in his network of about 3500 suppliers. 

"We searched our suppliers and we found slavery," he said.

"The forces which allow that despicable trade and abuse of people are still within the economic system and that's what must be looked at.

"Business can make a massive and historic contribution to the end of slavery."

The Fortescue Metals Group chairman is quickly making a name for himself as a philanthropist, joining the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to pledge that he will donate half his wealth to charity.

Forrest also donated $65 million to WA’s higher education system in October.

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