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How Australian mining magnate’s ‘undercover billionaire’ wife plans to GIVE AWAY up to $27billion

She is Australia’s most generous philanthropist, but most Aussies wouldn’t have a clue who she is.

Nicola Forrest has been married to iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest for 30 years and reluctantly edged into the spotlight when the mining power couple pledged to give away the ‘vast majority’ of their fortune in their lifetimes.

Based on the value of their shares, especially in Fortescue Metals Group, their wealth is estimated at $27.25billion, much of it made from exporting iron ore to China.

Mr Forrest built his fortune in mining by founding Anaconda Nickel Ltd, now known as Minara Resources, in 1994, before founding Fortescue in 2003 and mining iron ore in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Nicola Forrest is Australia’s most generous philanthropist – but most Aussies don’t have a clue who she is

It's a family joke that Mrs Forrest is known as the 'undercover billionaire' (Nicola Forrest is pictured left with her daughter Grace, who heads a human rights organisation that Nicola funds)

It’s a family joke that Mrs Forrest is known as the ‘undercover billionaire’ (Nicola Forrest is pictured left with her daughter Grace, who heads a human rights organisation that Nicola funds)

Nicola Forrest is pictured with her high profile billionaire husband Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest, whose risk taking on iron ore mines in WA's Pilbara region was the basis of their $27.25billion fortune

Nicola Forrest is pictured with her high profile billionaire husband Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, whose risk taking on iron ore mines in WA’s Pilbara region was the basis of their $27.25billion fortune

Where the Forrest’s $27.25billion is going

  • Prioritizing education for children under five
  • Ending modern slavery 
  • Improving Australia’s fire and flood ‘resilience’ by 2025
  • End the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
  • Eliminate plastic waste in rivers and oceans 
  • Collaboration in cancer research
  • Flourishing oceans 
  • Building community partnerships 
  • Arts and culture 
  • Education on the real societal impacts of new technologies
  • Forrest research foundation

Source: Mindaroo Foundation 

 

It’s a family joke that Mrs Forrest is known as the ‘undercover billionaire’.

The nickname is partly a reference to her notorious thriftiness and partly down to the fact she preferred to remain in Andrew Forrest’s shadow for decades.

‘The [undercover billionaire title] comes from the fact that she’d be encouraging dad, Sydney, and I to eat a week-old expired yoghurt because it’d be wasted,’ daughter Grace Forrest told the ABC.

‘The UCB does not like waste in any form.’

Her mother’s hatred of waste even led Mrs Forrest to abstain from using cling wrap and to wash and reuse plastic ziplock bags.

In April, Mrs Forrest said she and Andrew would give away their fortune because they don’t want their three children, daugthers Grace and Sophia, and son Sydney to be ‘burdened’ by a handout.

‘Children don’t benefit from thinking they’re going to inherit a huge amount of money,’ she said earlier this year.

Grace Forrest was 2018 Western Australia’s Young Australian of the Year for her work in the charity Walk Free, which is funded by her parent’s wealth and aims to eradicate modern slavery.

Sophia Forrest is an actor who recently got engaged to her girlfriend Zara Zoe.

She has already starred in the DC movie Aquaman and the Australian miniseries Love Child.

Sophia Forrest is an actor who recently got engaged to her girlfriend Zara Zoe

Sophia Forrest is an actor who recently got engaged to her girlfriend Zara Zoe

Grace Forrest was 2018 Western Australia's Young Australian of the Year for her work in the charity Walk Free, funded by her parents' wealth

Grace Forrest was 2018 Western Australia’s Young Australian of the Year for her work in the charity Walk Free, funded by her parents’ wealth

Other Australians who have pledged to give away their fortunes include Canva founders Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, and Aristocrat pokies king Len Ainsworth.

With Mrs Forrest at the helm of the Minderoo Foundation the couple set up to make good on their promise, they have already invested $2.6billion in 11 projects.

It made record-breaking donations of $400million in 2017 and $655million in 2019.

The organisation hasn’t been without its critics. Environmental activist groups have questioned how real its commitment is, especially to green issues, given the foundation is built on mining industry profits.

But Minderoo is just getting started. It is understood to be gearing up to donate over $1billion every year.

In April, Mrs Forrest said she and Andrew would give away their fortune because they don't want their three children - Grace, Sophia, and Sydney to be 'burdened' by a handout

In April, Mrs Forrest said she and Andrew would give away their fortune because they don’t want their three children – Grace, Sophia, and Sydney to be ‘burdened’ by a handout

Pictured: Andrew and Nicola Forrest with their daughters Grace and Sophia

Pictured: Andrew and Nicola Forrest with their daughters Grace and Sophia 

Some projects are as big huge as ending slavery, global warming, and closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Other Minderoo projects are as personal as improving early childhood education.

‘I am motivated by the experiences I’ve had both raising, and losing, children,’ Nicola Forrest told the National Press Club last February.

A focus on helping young children is Mrs Forrest’s biggest passion, partly driven by the loss of her still-born daughter Matilda in 1988.

A post-mortem commissioned by the family found there was nothing wrong and their daughter, albeit stillborn, was a ‘perfect, beautiful little girl’.

She said the loss of Matilda ‘tore our family apart’.

‘Because of this experience, I reached out to Professor John Newnham at the Women and Infant’s Research Foundation, joined their board and worked with them for years,’ Mrs Forrest said.

‘This relationship and the research that I became immersed in is the reason I am standing here today and, indeed, why we launched Minderoo Foundation 20 years ago.

‘It opened my eyes to the astonishingly simple fact. That, from conception, the first five years of life are crucial to human health and happiness.

‘Protect those years, and you protect the future.’

Family affair: Sophia shared an intimate clip of herself with Zara and her mining magnate father Andrew (far right) and wife Nicola (far left)

Family affair: Sophia shared an intimate clip of herself with Zara and her mining magnate father Andrew (far right) and wife Nicola (far left) 

Another focus of the foundation is  to improve education for children aged under five before they go to school.

‘They may not able to concentrate, follow instructions, express themselves or interact with each other or with adults. Or they may be unusually withdrawn or anxious,’ Mrs Forrest said.

Those children fall behind so quickly that by the time they hit their teenage years they ‘are completely disengaged’ she said.

In 2019, Minderoo published a major report showing the cost of Australians ‘late intervention’ with children left behind in their education is $15.2billion dollars a year.

‘The cost of our inaction is stained on the government’s budget papers – $5.9billion dollars for child protection, $2.7billion for youth crime, $1.3billion for mental health – and that was before COVID,’ she said.

Another of Minderoo Foundation’s projects is eliminating childhood cancer.

Under the banner of collaborating against cancer, Minderoo is also aiming to see cigarettes banned for anyone aged under 21.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk