Gina Rinehart has topped off a dramatic 12 months by sweeping to top place on the BRW Rich 200 list with a fortune of $10.3 billion.
It is the first time any member of the Rich 200 has broken through the magical $10 billion mark and underlines the dramatic impact the mining boom has had on the ranks of Australia’s wealthy.
Rinehart was well ahead of the surprise second place on the list Ivan Glasenberg, the South African-born, Swiss-based chief executive of Glencore. His wealth was estimated at $8.8 billion courtesy of last week’s float of the world’s biggest commodity trader.
Andrew Forrest, the head of Fortescue Metals Group, was in third place with a fortune of $6.18 billion, while Anthony Pratt, who succeeded his late father as head of packaging giant Visy Industries, was in fourth with $5.18 billion.
Clive Palmer — who is set to list his coal company Resourcehouse on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the next few weeks — was ranked fifth with a fortune of $5.05 billion.
While Gina Rinehart has never been far from the headlines in the last 12 months thanks to her strident opposition to the Government’s mining tax and her surprise investments in media companies Ten Network and Fairfax Media, the sheer size of the increase in her fortune is staggering.
According to BRW, she has added more than $5 billion to her fortune in the last 12 months, courtesy of rising iron ore prices and increased production from her mining interest in the Pilbara, most of which are actually mined by Rio Tinto.
The $10.3 billion valuation may even be conservative. Rinehart currently has two coal projects in Queensland under development with an end value of $15 billion.
If the mining boom can continue — and this is largely reliant on growth in the Chinese economy — then Rinehart’s fortune could climb even further.
Another impressive addition to the billionaire’s club is Nathan Tinkler, who at 35 is the youngest member of the list.
Tinkler, who has parlayed a $1 million gamble on a Queensland coal project into a fortune worth $1.01 billion, is another entrepreneur never far from the headlines.
In the last 12 months he has purchased two Newcastle football clubs (the Newcastle Knights NRL club and the Newcastle Jets A-League soccer club), led a $1 billion bid to buy a port asset in the city and invested in a construction company.
But he has also been involved in a series of legal battles, most notably over the collapse of a luxury car club which he invested in three years ago.
The total wealth of the 200 people on the business magazine’s annual list jumped 23% to $167.25 billion, largely as a result of Rinehart’s big jump and Glasenberg’s debut.