Rinehart's children launch Roy Hill ownership suit
Gina Rinehart increased the wealth gap with her fellow Australian billionaires growing her iron ore and coal empire by $700 million last year according to Forbes' rich list.
Rinehart's bank account through her holdings in unlisted Hancock Prospecting grew 4% to $17.7 billion last year, making her a cool $10 billion richer than her nearest Australian rivals, the Pratt dynasty.
While the slump in coal and iron ore prices would have certainly hurt her bank balance this year, a new lawsuit launched by her estranged has the potential to do even more damage.
In the new federal court suit which is separate from the ongoing bitter battle over the family trust, Bianca Rinehart and John Hancock are challenging the ownership of mother Gina's most prized assets Hope Downs and Roy Hill.
Hope Downs is jointly owned with Rio Tinto and completed a 15 million tonnes per year expansion a year ago, but Roy Hill – a close to $10 billion project – is the real money spinner.
Roy Hill will start shipping 55-million tonnes-a-year as early as September 2015 and after securing the necessary debt package, Rinehart still holds 70% of the venture.
Rinehart Snr's lawyers want to keep court proceedings secret so as not to worry financiers or investors in Roy Hill about the real ownership of the project billed as Australia's largest:
Talkback host Jason Morrison, who is Mrs Rinehart's media adviser, sat among journalists at the back of the courtroom as a team of Sydney's most high-profile lawyers argued that key investors in the assets at stake would be spooked if the documents filed by her estranged children in the Federal Court last week became public, saying it would create a "media circus".
"I don't mean to be pejorative but the circus has been in town for a long time," Justice Peter Jacobson replied.