She's an heiress to a mining empire who has become a tycoon in her own right: Australian Gina Rinehart has nearly tripled her wealth in the past 12 months to become the wealthiest woman in the world and the richest person in Australia.
Business Review Weekly, which ranks the richest 200 individuals, estimates her net worth at $28.48 billion, putting her above Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton's $25.3 billion. Previously Walton was the world's richest woman.
Rinehart's fortunes rose with commodity prices and two business deals she closed in iron ore and coal. The 58-year-old is considered a controversial figure (are the self-made wealthy ever considered anything but?) who campaigned in her country against new mining taxes. She is also caught up in lawsuits with her children over a family trust.
The editor of the Business Review Weekly list, Andrew Heathcote, told AFP news that if demand for Australia's natural resources continues, she could overtake Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim for the title of richest person in the world. According to Forbes, his fortune is estimated at $69 billion. "A $100-billion fortune is not out of the question for Rinehart if the resources boom continues unabated," Heathcote said.
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