Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest will offer free assistance to Pakistan’s largest province in a unique anti-slavery initiative.
In an agreement announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, Mr Forrest will help arrange a feasibility study for Punjab on the conversion of its lignite coal to diesel using cutting-edge technology developed in Australia.
In return, Punjab’s chief minister Shabaz Sharif has promised to work with Forrest’s Walk Free Foundation to eradicate slavery in the province, which is home to more than 100 million people.
Mr Forrest, noted for his philanthropy, including last year’s $A65 million donation towards higher education in Western Australia, wants to help achieve energy independence for Punjab and the eradication of poverty there.
“Both of these initiatives will drive growth,” Mr Forrest said.
The deal earned the approval of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who sung its praises during a brief chance meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Davos.
Mr Blair said Mr Forrest was “setting a good Australian philanthropic example”, while Mr Abbott declared the mining magnate an “absolute human dynamo”.