Billionaire Australian Gina Rinehart, is taking Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) to court, demanding the world's third largest miner pay her royalties for iron ore production at the Channar and Eastern Ranges mines in the Pilbara.
Bloomberg reports that Rinehart is accusing Rio of owing her and partner Wright Prospecting 2.5% of sales from the sites over the next 12 years of production.
The Anglo-Australian mining giant is fighting the demands, saying that it already pays Hancock Prospecting, Rinehart’s company, royalties on production at Tom Price, Marandoo and Paraburdoo mines.
While details of the sums at stake has been kept private, Bloomberg says Rio expects Channar to produce 200 million tonnes in its life and iron ore prices currently hover around $150 a tonne.
Rinehart, nicknamed Big G, owns a multi-billion dollar coal and iron ore empire, which makes her the fourth richest person in the industry, according to Mining.com’s recent list of the 40 wealthiest billionaires involved in minerals, metals and mining on the planet, with a combined wealth of well over $300 billion.
Rinehart, 58, inherited Hancock Prospecting from her father Lang Hancock who discovered the world’s largest iron deposit in the Pilbara region in 1952. When Rinehart took over 20 years ago the family firm was debt-ridden and struggling and she built it into the world’s number one private mining business.
Forbes estimates Rinehart's fortune at $18 billion, saying it has doubled in the past year thanks to billions of dollars of investments in her coal and iron ore projects in Australia from India and South Korea.