However, the Forrest family’s Minderoo Foundation and Perth-based Australian Doctors for Africa delivered more than 30,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to help in the fight there against COVID-19.
Fortescue said Mr Forrest and his touring party travelled to the DRC and Ethiopia from his new headquarters in Croatia for early-stage discussions on important investment and philanthropic opportunities.
“FFI entered into a Deed of Agreement with the DRC, to conduct development studies into the feasibility of projects using DRC hydropower and geothermal resources to support green industrial operations,” a company spokesman said.
“Subject to the completion of feasibility studies and approvals, individual projects will be developed by FFI with ownership and project finance sources to be separately secured without recourse to Fortescue.”
Acting on behalf of the Fortescue subsidiary, Mr Forrest has signed similar deals with Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Afghanistan in the past few weeks.
Mr Forrest is on an extended absence from Australia, where his home state of Western Australia has closed its borders to the rest of the country, and has set up a new base in Croatia.
He left Perth on a private jet in August for meetings with heads of state in at least six countries, with the Fortescue-Minderoo team narrowly avoiding a deadly bomb blast targeting Afghanistan Vice-President Amrullah Saleh in Kabul during their travels.
The touring party is made up of Minderoo and Fortescue representatives, including Fortescue deputy chief executive Julie Shuttleworth.
In Ethiopia, Minderoo in partnership with Australian Doctors for Africa delivered more than 30,000 disposable masks and 480 pairs protective goggles to the Black Lion Hospital.
The group, founded by leading orthopaedic surgeon Graham Forward in 2005, is involved in training local doctors and nurses and providing volunteer services at the hospital.
The equipment would help doctors and nurses on the frontline in the fight against the virus in Africa’s second-most populous nation, said Steve Burnell, Minderoo’s COVID-19 response leader.
“The World Health Organisation has recently expressed its concerns about accelerating infection rates in Africa – and it’s well-documented that access to modern health care in Ethiopia is limited for many of its 109 million people,” he said.
ADFA provides volunteer medical assistance and training in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Somaliland and Comoros.
In 2018-19, ADFA volunteers carried out more than 1900 consultations, performed more than 550 surgical procedures and trained more than 420 local medical professionals.
In an exclusive interview with The Australian Financial Review on September 15, Mr Forrest there was a big upside for investors in his travels and plans for FFI.
“We have created immense upside within a subsidiary which will balance-sheet protect Fortescue and utilise workforces entirely from other countries. So when the obvious commentary starts that Fortescue is taking enormous risk with its personnel, that just is not correct,” he said.
“We are assisting countries build Fortescues with their own populations.”