Rinehart's Roy Hill secures close to $700 million from US bank

While Gina Rinehart works full steam to collect the daunting sum of $10 billion she needs for her ambitious Roy Hill iron ore project in Australia’s Pilbara region, US Export-Import Bank has decided to back her up with almost $700 million (A$790m) in loans.

Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, had hoped to have all the funding in place by the middle of 2013. But given the amount of contracts Roy Hill has been letting in the past year, the project  – the biggest to emerge Down Under in decades – has been burning through equity.

The loan, approved by Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States Thursday, is subject to the condition the company acquires equipment from US suppliers such as Caterpillar, GE and Atlas Copco.

On Wednesday, Rinehart reportedly secured close to $1 billion in debt funding from Korea Eximbank.

The project, originally expected to begin production this year, is way behind schedule. While the company last pushed it out to September 2015, industry analysts believe it is more likely to see the light by 2016. This, of course, assuming it solves the financing issue.

Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting owns a 70% interest in the project, South Korea's Posco and STX Corp holds 15%, Japanese firm Marubeni has a 12.5% stake while Taiwan's China Steel Corp holds the remainder.

Roy Hill involves a new mine capable of producing 55 million tonnes per annum of iron ore, a 344km railway and a new port at Port Hedland.