Mining heiress made to reveal secret accounts

Michael Bow
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ONE of the world’s richest women, mining heiress Gina Rinehart, has caved in to regulatory pressure and finally revealed the full extent of her business empire.

Rinehart, executive chairman at Australian mining company Hancock Prospecting, has published two years’ worth of business accounts after giving up the fight with Australian financial watchdog the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to keep the details of the business secret.

The mining mogul, worth an estimated $18bn (£11.2bn), had been battling to keep the accounts under wraps for fear of revealing sensitive details about her partnership with UK miner Rio Tinto, and future plans for more mining projects in Australia.

The documents, filed last month, show her business doubled its pre-tax profits to A$1.2bn (£782m) for the year ending June 30 2011, versus profits of A$688m in 2010.

Rinehart, who ranked higher than Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg in this year’s Forbes’ rich list, is one Australia’s most powerful business figures and a media mogul, owning a controlling stake in newspaper publisher Fairfax, which publishes The Sydney Morning Herald.

She inherited Hancock Prospecting from her father, Lang Hancock, after he died in 1992.

The accounts for 2010 and 2011 show Hancock Prospecting borrowed cash from Rio Tinto to let Rinehart’s firm carry on contributing its share of funds to a mining project, jointly operated by the two firms.

The 2011 accounts for the end of June show Hancock owed more than $83m to Rio Tinto.

Hancock also fought to hide the state of the company’s balance sheet for fear of revealing information about a future mining and rail project currently raising investment.

Rinehart is currently locked in a legal battle with her children over the family’s fortune.

Rinehart’s father co-founded the business after locating vast tracts of lucrative iron ore land in North West Australia in the 1950’s.