Forrest eyes Chinese investment for aquifer water irrigation project

Andrew Forrest, the mining tycoon, wants to harness 5,000 gigalitres of water from Australia’s aquifers to irrigate and drought-proof agricultural land.

Mining tycoon-cum-agriculture investor Andrew Forrest plans to use Australia’s underground water resources to irrigate agricultural land across the country, he said at Tuesday’s ABARES Outlook 2015 conference in Canberra.

Forrest, also known as Twiggy, said that he wanted to attract “passive” Chinese investment to the project that will produce drought-proof land for agricultural production, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The 10-year project is aiming to harness 5,000 gigalitres of water from Australia’s aquifers to irrigate previously non-agricultural land and drought-proof other land.

“Let’s not set it up to fail by casting it as a complete project [because] it is not,” the Herald reported him saying. “But everything I know starts from a dream, and the dream I want to share with you is an Australia which does not fear lack of water in any part of its agricultural industry.”

Forrest established the Chinese Australia Sino Hundred Year Agricultural and Food Safety Partnership (ASA 100), an Australian agriculture industry initiative for a unified approach to China, last summer, which some agri investment professionals touted as good news for the sector. The tycoon bought Harvey Beef, Western Australia’s biggest beef abattoir, last May and he grew up on the commercial cattle station of Minderoo Station in Western Australia.