Australia's iron lady on road to world-scale wealth - report
By James Regan
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Gina Rinehart could soon become the world's wealthiest woman after amassing an $18 billion fortune from mining and media investments, Forbes magazine says in its latest list of the wealthiest people in Australia.
The 57-year old widow saw her fortune almost double after a deal signed last month that will see South Korean steel giant POSCO take a 15 percent stake in her Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia's Pilbara iron belt.
The deal valued the project at $10 billion, boosting Rinehart's fortune dramatically.
In the next few years, Rinehart also has plans to expand her iron ore operations and develop two coal collieries.
If commodity prices hold up, Rinehart could challenge Christie Walton, worth $24.5 billion, as the world's richest woman, Forbes said.
Walton is the widow of John Walton, one of the sons of Sam Walton, the founder of retail chain Wal-Mart Stores.
For now, Rinehart will have to be content with being the Asia-Pacific region's wealthiest woman, based on Forbes' tally.
Rinehart is the daughter of Lang Hancock, an Australian prospector credited with discovering giant deposits of iron ore in the 1950s that now make up Australia's largest export base. Continued...