Business, Finance & Economics

Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart named as world's richest woman

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Gina Rinehart, Australian billionaire.

Credit:

Paul Kane

Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has taken over from Wal-Mart's Christy Walton as the world’s richest woman, with a fortune of 29.2 billion Australian dollars ($28.6 billion).

According to BRW Magazine, which compiles an annual "rich list," Rinehart this year surpassed Forbes' calculation of $26 billion for Christy Walton, the widow of John Walton and holder of a major stake in US retail giant Wal-Mart.

Walton has been listed as the world's wealthiest woman for the past seven years.

Rinehart, 58, who controls the Australian mining company Hancock Prospecting, saw her fortune triple over the past year, helped by growing demand for resources from countries including China and a recovery in iron-ore prices, BRW said.

BRW estimates that her wealth increases $1,077,054 every 30 minutes of every day.

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Rinehart is now ranked the 31st richest person in the world, with a net worth of $18.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with BRW suggesting that she is on track to enter the top-10 — perhaps even unseating Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim, who holds the No. 1 spot with a personal fortune of $66.2 billion.

“If the demand for natural resources remains strong, additional multi-billion mines are almost inevitable,” Andrew Heathcote, BRW Rich List editor, said in the statement. "There is a real possibility that Rinehart will become not just the richest woman in the world but the richest person in the world.”

Rinehart inherited mining assets from her father, Lang Hancock, who discovered iron ore deposits in the Pilbara region of Western Australia in the 1950s.

She has had a tumultuous year personally, with three of her four children seeking to remove their mother as executor of a multibillion-dollar trust that holds almost 25 percent of Hancock Prospecting. 

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