Mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest will pocket $1.1 billion in a single day this year

Twiggy is headed for one hell of a payday. (May Tse, South China Morning Post via Getty Images)
  • Fortesce Metals has announced its final year dividend, netting chair Andrew Forrest a one-off payment of $1.1 billion.
  • Combined with the interim one, he’ll pocket $2 billion this year in dividends alone.
  • It comes off the back of a record year for the iron miner, which has proffited from a sky-high iron ore price, strong Chinese demand and diminished global competition.
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One of Australia’s richest mining magnates is about to enjoy a dividend payday for the history books.

A bumper financial year for Fortescue Metals, buoyed by a roaring iron ore price, will net chairman Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest a $1.11 billion dividend.

Announcing the $1 per share dividend on Monday, CEO Elizabeth Gaines said it had been an “outstanding performance for Fortescue, with record results achieved”.

Combined with the interim one, Forrest will ultimately pocket $2 billion in the space of 12 months in dividends alone, eclipsing the $1.2 billion he made the previous year.

It’s an extraordinary figure emerging from an extraordinary year in which Chinese demand for iron ore outpaced a market hampered by ongoing disruptions in Brazil, home to several major exporters. A perfect storm, it was enough to drive the iron price north of $US120 per tonne.

In the end, it managed to exceed even its own lofty ambitions, exporting a record 178 million tonnes over the duration of the financial year.

Over the last 12 months, it’s helped more than double the ASX-listed miner’s share price, trading at around $18.70 at midday on Monday.

Forrest, who has increased his ownership of the company to more than 36%, confirmed some of his wife’s and his wealth would continue to flow into philanthropy.

“This year, Nicola and I announced an additional personal donation of $520 million to Minderoo Foundation, bringing our total donations to the Foundation’s causes, both here and abroad, to over $2 billion,” he said in his chairman’s message.

Some of that money has been used this year to procure frontline medical supplies, establish a bushfire relief fund, and more recently fund the research of some of Google’s and Facebook’s biggest critics.

Despite the surprisingly high dividend payout, Fortescue still banks an after-tax profit of more than $6.5 billion, up nearly 50% on last year.

The miner said it had managed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 by getting ahead of the curb.

“We began dealing with the impact of COVID-19 long before the first case was identified in Australia given the impact on our China-based colleagues,” Gaines said.

“As the pandemic hit our shores, we introduced measures such as extended operational rosters, working from home, additional charter flights, changes to our village facilities, and temperature and health screening to keep our people and the broader community safe.”

Ultimately, it has also safeguarded a bumper profit to boot.