He’s already thrown hundreds of millions of dollars towards improving the lives of Aboriginal people, ending the scourge of global slavery and finding a cure for cancer.
Now billionaire miner and philanthropist Andrew Forrest has a new cause: saving the world’s oceans.
Mr Forrest is undertaking a PhD in marine science at the University of Western Australia and is due to complete his studies next year.
Mr Forrest, 55, is a major donor to UWA, having given $130 million to the Perth university since 2013.
Sources close to the mining magnate say he is expected to use his PhD to become more actively involved in causes such as preserving Australia’s marine parks.
Mr Forrest has a net worth of more than $5.4 billion and has pledged to give away most of this fortune in his lifetime.
“He has a strong passion for the oceans,” said one source. “He realised he needed to get skilled up to make a real difference.”
But this activism could put the mining magnate on a collision course with the Turnbull government, which has been criticised in recent days over a plan to rezone Australia’s network of marine parks to allow for a range of activities besides conservation.
A coalition of 25 environmental groups said last week that the area of marine parks open to fishing would jump from 64 per cent to 80 per cent if the proposed changes were adopted.
The government has defended the proposed changes as “striking the right balance”.
Mr Forrest joined hundreds of businesses in WA last year pushing for a full restoration of the marine park network.
“It is so important that the business community recognises the economic value of healthy marine life,” he said.
Mr Forrest and his wife Nicola created history in May with a $400m donation to a range of causes that was hailed as the single biggest philanthropic gift by a living Australian.
Most of that will be spent combating slavery, trying to make cancer non-lethal and funding higher-education research.
The couple’s Minderoo Foundation said some of the money would also be used to “preserve, enhance and drive enjoyment of Australia’s large and diverse natural environment, including our expansive coastline and parklands”.