Gina Rinehart has been declared the richest woman in the world, with a wealth that now stands at $29.17 billion.
The Australian mining magnate, an extremely private and media-shy businesswoman who inherited her father’s iron ore mining business Hancock Prospecting, is top of BRW’s 2012 Rich 200, which calculates that Rinehart has overtaken Walmart heiress Christy Walton.
Rinehart’s vast fortune is now close to $4 billion more than Walton’s $US25.3 billion net worth, as calculated by Forbes magazine. Walton has held the title of world’s richest woman for seven years.
But it’s the recent leap in her fortune that is truly impressive – a year ago, Rinehart was worth ‘only’ $10.3 billion – in twelve months, she has almost tripled that wealth after closing money-spinning deals on iron ore and coal resources.
Indeed, Rinehart’s sudden rise has taken her to just outside Forbes’ 10 richest people in the world, a list topped by Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who are valued at $US69 billion and $US61 billion respectively.
Yet the 58-year-old Rinehart’s immense wealth has come at a price – she is currently locked in a legal battle with three of her four children, as they seek to remove her as trustee of a trust that owns almost one-quarter of Hancock Prospecting with a potential value of more than $7 billion.
The dispute with her own children has catapulted Rinehart back into the unwanted media spotlight, and apparently caused her the greatest angst. Her lawyer, Paul McCann, warned in a statement on May 10 that litigation is mounting as her fortune rises.