Rine­hart ful­fils fam­ily dream

Pilbara News - - News -

Gina Rine­hart has fi­nally ful­filled the decades-old dream of her fam­ily min­ing dy­nasty, wav­ing good­bye to Port Hed­land from the bridge of the ship car­ry­ing her first load of ore to Asia re­cently.

Mrs Rine­hart’s voy­age on the MV Anan­gel Ex­plorer lasted only an hour and it was days be­fore the 105,000 tonnes of Roy Hill iron ore was to reach its first cus­tomer, the Korean steel mills of Roy Hill par­towner POSCO.

But Mrs Rine­hart’s ex­cite­ment at the de­par­ture cer­e­mony was ob­vi­ous when, in front of a small group of Roy Hill staff, se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tives of its other share­hold­ers, and con­trac­tors, she said the day was the ful­fil­ment of the dreams of her and her fa­ther, leg­endary WA prospec­tor Lang Han­cock.

“It was al­ways our Han­cock Prospect­ing vi­sion that we would move from the early days of ex­plo­ration and de­vel­op­ment by oth­ers to where our com­pany took in­creas­ing roles to­wards the lead and de­vel­oped a de­posit in­de­pen­dently,” she said.

Com­pa­nies founded by Mr Han­cock and then busi­ness part­ner Peter Wright are cred­ited with do­ing much of the early work in find­ing and defin­ing the Pil­bara’s vast iron ore de­posits.

De­spite dis­cov­er­ing many of the de­posits that un­der­pin WA’s Pil­bara iron ore in­dus­try, nei­ther founder of the Han­wright part­ner­ship ever man­aged to bring an iron ore mine into pro­duc­tion.

It was not un­til Mrs Rine­hart took con­trol of Han­cock Prospect­ing that new life was breathed back into the dream. Un­til the re- cent ship­ment from Roy Hill, the clos­est Han­cock Prospect­ing had come was the de­vel­op­ment of the Hope Downs de­posits.

Roy Hill was pegged in 1992, about the same time a State Agree­ment was signed for Hope Downs, Mrs Rine­hart’s first op­tion to build her own mine.

But no way could be found to break the port and rail in­fra­struc­ture stran­gle­hold of the re­gion’s two big­gest play­ers, Rio Tin- to and BHP Bil­li­ton, and Hope Downs stalled.

When Mrs Rine­hart made the sur­prise de­ci­sion in 2005 to bring in Rio Tinto as half-owner and op­er­a­tor of the joint ven­ture, many saw it as her last chance to ful­fil the fam­ily dream.

By 2010, Roy Hill’s build­ing blocks be­gan to fall in place as it at­tracted a cash in­vest­ment from POSCO.

Over the en­su­ing years, Mrs Rine­hart dredged ship­ping berths in Port Hed­land and be­gan con­struc­tion af­ter work­ing hard to bring in bil­lions of dol­lars of in­vest­ment.

The task now will be to get Roy Hill up to full ca­pac­ity by the end of next year, at a time of far-softer iron ore prices.

Roy Hill still car­ries $US7.2 bil­lion in debt and to pay that back may be Mrs Rine­hart’s big­gest chal­lenge yet.

Pic­ture: Ben Leahy

Gina Rine­hart with her daugther Ginia.

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