Heiresses prevail over Rio Tinto in royalty spat

The Supreme Court of News South Wales awarded mining billionaires Gina Rinehart, and Angela Bennett and Bennett's brother Michael Wright a win in their royalty dispute with Rio Tinto.

The court made its decision on May 10. Judge David Hammerschlag presided. About $200 million in lost royalties are being sought.

Wright Prospecting Pty Ltd and Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd sued Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd and Mount Bruce Mining Pty Ltd, two entities wholly owned by Rio Tinto, for royalties. The miners run by Rinehart and Bennett alleged that royalties were payable under a 1970 written agreement. The disputed area are iron mines in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, the Eastern Range and Channar.

Rio Tinto argued that the contract was too expansive.

Rinehart is Hancock's daughter while Bennett is Wright's daughter. The two women are also in a separate legal battle against each other about ownership stake the country's most lucrative mine Hope Downs, an iron ore venture also partially owned by Rio Tinto.