Australian media likes to call her ‘Iron Lady‘. The nickname is taken from the legendary British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but it suits Gina Rinehart just as well. She is 69, stubborn and has grown up almost entirely on her own in the man’s world of mining and iron ore. So what else should one call her?
Business magazine Forbes In 2011, he saw the tough Rinehart as the potentially richest person in the world. If the Australian dollar exchange rate and the nerves of the world market had cooperated, she might have succeeded. In 2023 she will be in modest 51st place, but with her 26 billion dollars in assets she is still one of the richest in the world.
About the author
Michel Maas is foreign editor of de Volkskrant. Previously he was a war reporter and correspondent in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.
Where Rinehart looms, businessmen begin to tremble. Where she buys in, others hastily withdraw. She has now set her sights on lithium: the most important raw material for electric car batteries.
By dabbling in the stock market, she has built up interests in Australia’s Liontown Resources (19.9 percent) and Azure Minerals (15.4 percent). The American company Albemarle, when it heard who it was dealing with, abandoned plans for Liontown.
Rinehart has been destined from her early years to become who she is today. Her entire childhood was steeped in the idea that she would succeed her father, Lang Hancock, in his mining company. “He mentioned her Fella (guy), and considered her his alter ego in everything,” family friend Imelda Roche told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Nuclear bombs for iron ore
Father Hancock discussed everything with his daughter and put her forward if he thought it best. When he figured out that nuclear bombs could get to the iron ore faster and easier, Gina had to do the dirty PR work. “It sounds better from her mouth than from mine,” Hancock said at the time. The plan fell through, but the wild thinking suited Rinehart and her father.
Rinehart still says very directly what she believes is the point, whether others like it or not. For example, she thinks climate change is nonsense. In a speech at her old girls’ school, she explained that the Earth was only getting warmer because of the sun and submarine volcanic eruptions. When the school cut that part of the speech online, it posted the full speech on its own website, where it remains today.
The choice for lithium is therefore not based on love for the environment. The environment can actually be stolen from her. She has nothing good to say about the Greens, whom she scornsgreenies‘ (greenies). They’re just bad for business.
One of the largest landowners in the world
When he died in 1992, Hancock left Rinehart, his only child, a mining company worth $75 million but with $100 million in debt. In less than ten years, Gina turned this into a profitable company that soon had its own mines and would form the basis for an ever-expanding concern with investments in all kinds of sectors.
Rinehart is now one of the largest landowners in the world, with 93 thousand square kilometers of land (more than twice the size of the Netherlands). She also bought shares in Fairfax Media, publisher of, among others The Sydney Morning Herald. When it turned out that this gave her no influence over the content of the newspaper, she sold the shares just as quickly.
Rinehart, like her late father, is not an easy person. Hancock noticed this himself when he started arguing with his daughter more and more towards the end of his life. Rinehart also argues with her children, and always about money. Due to conflicts, she did not attend the weddings of her two eldest children.
Lawsuits against children
Australia has been enjoying court hearings in which Rinehart faces her children for years. They had to litigate for years to get the family trust fund (of more than 3 billion euros) out of her hands. Rinehart should have transferred this in 2011, but she changed the transfer date from 2011 to 2068. The children won the case and still got control of the billions.
A feud with her father’s last wife, Rose Porteous, was also never settled. Rinehart called her ‘the oriental concubine’ and accused her in court of having accelerated Hancock’s death with her swearing and ranting. After years of litigation, the judge partly agreed with Rinehart. Porteous got the house, but nothing else.
Rinehart stars in the new Netflix series The Fall of the House of Usher. It shows a row of photos of the world’s richest: the Vanderbilts, Mark Zuckerberg, Rupert Murdoch, the Trump family, and… Gina Rinehart. Even had that Forbes can’t dream.
3 x Rinehart
‘We’d better hire Africans. They like to work for less than $2 a day.” Gina Reinhart
“Tossing someone a coin and then asking them to work for a day is not how we do it here in Australia.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, on Rinehart’s suggestion to hire cheap Africans.
‘Wealth does not equal intelligence.’ Scientist Will Steffen to ABC Perth about Rinehart’s attitude to climate change.