The end game in a historic feud over Western Australia’s iron ore throne looks set to begin as the Pilbara’s biggest mining dynasties prepare to clash in the Supreme Court.
The historic showdown will unearth the 1960s business dealings of late mining magnate Lang Hancock relating to the multibillion-dollar Hope Downs iron ore tenement in what is shaping up to become the state’s biggest civil court case.
On the one side is Mr Hancock’s daughter and the richest woman in Australia, Gina Rinehart, coupled with her company Hancock Prospecting. On the other are the heirs of Mr Hancock’s business partner, Peter Wright, and the descendants of a third Pilbara mining pioneer, Don Rhodes.
The Wright heirs, represented as Wright Prospecting, and Rhodes heirs, represented as DFD Rhodes, are laying claim to a greater stake and royalties in the Hope Downs tenement, which is co-owned by Hancock Prospecting and operator Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto has been named in the Supreme Court action as Hamersley WA.
Hope Downs, which was Lang’s first-claimed iron ore discovery in the lucrative Hamersley Ranges, encompasses four operational mines known as Hope 1 North, Hope 1 South, Hope Downs 4 and Baby Hope.