Gina Rinehart scores WA royalties win against mining major Rio Tinto (The Australian – October 14, 2015)

BILLIONAIRE Gina Rinehart has had a multi-million dollar High Court win against mining giant Rio Tinto.

The High Court of Australia ruled that Rio Tinto subsidiary Mount Bruce Mining (MBM) is liable to pay royalties to Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and joint venture partner Wright Prospecting in relation to iron ore mined in the Eastern Range and Channar areas of the Pilbara in Western Australia.

The High Court dismissed an appeal from the NSW Court of Appeal in relation to a tenement sale agreement reached in 1970 between Ms Rinehart’s father Lang Hancock and his business partner Peter Wright about the payment of royalties by MBM.

Rio Tinto temporarily lost control of the tenements and later regained control to mine the rich iron ore region. The sale made Ms Rinehart the richest woman in Australia and one of the richest people in the world.

The High Court said under the terms of the 1970 Agreement, MBM was assured of an exclusive opportunity to exploit an area of land allocated to it irrespective of the nature or terms of the tenement authorised by the state.

“In return for that opportunity, Hanwright was assured of the payment of royalties upon the proceeds of that exploitation,” the judges said.

They said the issue was resolved by the “overriding criterion” of how reasonable businesspersons would have understood the term of the agreement.

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