June 25, 2008

Australia's Billion-Dollar Land Grab

Never mind the aboriginal land battles that followed the colonial era — turf wars in today’s Australia are for billionaires.

The richest man Down Under, Andrew Forrest, is squaring off against the nation’s wealthiest woman, Gina Rinehart, in an epic conflict over access to the iron-rich Rhodes Ridge territory in Western Australia, Bloomberg News reports.

Forrest’s Perth-based Fortalescu Metals Group is claiming improper lease renewals by Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, and according to The Australian may also be favored by a “use it or lose it” policy that places public interest over tenancy.

The legal battle is driven by China’s voracious appetite for iron ore, and whomever wins the mining and export rights will reap vast rewards.

Rinehart may be personally enriched by A$500 million if she comes out on top, while Forrest’s company and partners stand to gain A$1.65 billion in royalties if they can take control of the Rhodes Ridge ore.

Sources:

“Australia’s Richest Man, Woman in Iron Ore Mine Fight”
Bloomberg, June 18, 2008

“Cazaly May Earn A$1.65 Billion in Royalties From Rhodes Ridge”
Bloomberg, June 22, 2008

“‘Use it or lose it’, mining project sitters told”
The Australian, June 19, 2008

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