Billionaire Rinehart Wins Royalty Court Battle With Rio Tinto

  • Dispute related to a 1970 agreement on iron ore deposits
  • High Court of Australia says Rio unit liable to pay royalties

Rio Tinto

Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart won an appeal in Australia’s High Court requiring Rio Tinto Group to pay royalties from two iron ore mines in the nation’s ore-rich Pilbara region.

Gina Rinehart

Gina Rinehart.

Photographer: Philip Gostelow/Bloomberg

Rio’s Mount Bruce Mining Pty unit is liable to make payments to Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Pty and Wright Prospecting Pty from both the Eastern Range and Channar mines, the court said Wednesday in a judgment summary.

Hancock and Wright are owed royalties under a 1970 agreement in which Rio agreed to pay 2.5 percent on iron ore sales from the two areas, according to earlier hearings. At hearings in March 2013, New South Wales Supreme Court Justice David Hammerschlag was told that about $200 million was at stake.

Rio had argued that Eastern Range and Channar lay outside the area on which royalties were due under the deal negotiated with Rinehart’s father Lang Hancock and his partner at the time Peter Wright, who had founded Wright Prospecting. An earlier appeal judgment from the Supreme Court found royalties were payable from Eastern Range, but not Channar.

Ben Mitchell, a Melbourne-based spokesman for Rio Tinto, declined to comment immediately on the judgment.

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