Aussie mining heiresses duke it out in court over Hope Downs deposits

The scions of two of Australia's leading mining dynasties are waging battle in court once again, this time over ownership of the Hope Downs iron ore deposits in Western Australia's mineral-rich Pilbara.

Gina Rinehart of the House of Hancock and Angela Bennet of the House of Wright are embroiled in a new legal stoush over the rights to Rinehart's stake in some of the Hope Downs deposits.

Fairfax reports that
Bennet has launched the lawsuit via the company founded by her father, Wright Prospecting, with the hope of obtaining control over tenements and profits from three out of six of the deposits.

Hope Downs is comprised of six separate deposits, of which Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) shares split ownership in two with Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting. Rinehart and Bennet are currently vying for control of Hope Downs 4, 5 and 6.

Rinehart and Bennet share much in common including intertwined family histories. The fathers of the two women, Lang Hancock and Peter Wright, were business partners who founded mining empires on the back of Western Australia's immense mineral riches.

Rinehart and Benet are also currently listed as the two wealthiest women in Australia, though Rinehart is far in the lead with her total net worth of over $29 billion dwarfing Bennet's still sizable $2 billion fortune.

The new lawsuit is part of a long saga of court battles between the pair over mining properties, with a judge recently awarding Rinehart's 25% stake in the Rhodes Ridge property to Wright Prospecting after 11 years of legal wrangling.

Rinehart is certainly no stranger to legal conflict with those closest to her, and is currently embroiled in an acrimonious court battle with her own children over a family trust established by her father worth more than AUD$3 billion.