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Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest is planning what could be up to an $8.4 billion “green hydrogen” investment in Argentina, the South American country’s government said on Monday after a meeting between the businessman and President Alberto Fernandez.

Forrest, whose Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (FMG.AX) aims to become carbon-neutral by 2030, is a major backer of green hydrogen, a zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis using renewable power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

While currently more expensive than rival fuels, backers tout it as a clean replacement for fossil fuels in industries otherwise hard to decarbonize. The International Renewable Energy Agency has forecast rapid growth in coming years.

Fortescue is looking at developing the project in the province of Río Negro with a view to producing green hydrogen on an industrial scale, which the government said would help create more than 15,000 direct jobs and additional ones indirectly.

“It is expected to turn Río Negro into a global green hydrogen export hub by 2030,” the government said. “It is the most important international investment for our country in the last 20 years.”

[Nicolas Misculin and Agustin Geist]

More: Argentina, Fortescue unveil $8.4 bln green hydrogen investment plan

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