His Wikipedia biography mentions that

In January 2014, Forrest announced a deal with Pakistan to do away with more than two million slaves in return for cheap coal.

citing an article in The Australian (titled "Andrew Forrest strikes cheap coal deal to end Pakistan slavery"). Actually the "cheap coal" seems to have been a tech transfer that would have enabled Pakistan to exploit their own "cheap coal" (lignite) and by the initial press report Pakistan's regional authorities were agreeing to it:

Using technology developed at Western Australia’s Curtin University, Forrest has signed an agreement with Pakistan’s Punjab state to test the feasibility of turning currently uneconomic lignite coal directly into diesel for use in the energy-starved region. [...]

Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif welcomed the deal and said he was pleased to announce that his was the first province to commit to becoming the first Pakistani province to eradicate slavery.

Time (magazine) had more details on what this deal entailed on the Pakistani side:

Forrest is proposing to introduce to Pakistan a new technology called biomass gasification — an Australian invention that converts currently uneconomic lignite coal, which Pakistan has in abundance, into diesel fuel. If successful, the move could alleviate the crippling power outages that have stalled Pakistan’s textile and manufacturing industries. In turn, that could mean the creation of thousands of new jobs.

In exchange, Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of the key province of Punjab — home to some 5,000 brick works — has pledged to introduce tough new laws outlawing child labor and imposing a minimum wage. He’s also pledged to free all bonded laborers within Punjab’s borders.

What came of this plan? Did it end or significantly reduce slavery in Pakistan?


1 Answer 1


The deal fell through.

The Australian Financial Review stated in 2020 that

In 2014 while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Forrest hailed a deal with the Pakistani state of Punjab as a pathway to freeing 2.5 million people from modern slavery.

The deal involved providing Australian technology touted as being able to convert lignite coal into diesel in return for laws tackling slavery.

It did not progress but Walk Free has continued to play a leading role in the fight to stamp out modern slavery.

So not much - the deal fell through.


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