Gina Rinehart, head of mining powerhouse Hancock Prospecting, has promoted the only one of her four children to back her in a family quarrel to the boards of three family-controlled companies.
Ginia Rinehart, 25, will replace her older sister Bianca Rinehart on the board of HMHT Investments, one of the family’s main firms, according to The Australian newspaper.
Although she is believed to have limited experience in the mining industry, Ginia will also sit on the board of the original family business Hancock Prospecting, as well as Hope Downs Marketing, a joint venture with mining giant Rio Tinto.
The appointments suggest Ginia will succeed her mother, Australia’s richest woman, as head of the family business, despite her older siblings Bianca and John Hancock previously being groomed for the role.
Bianca remains a director of Hancock Prospecting, but The Australian says she no longer plays a role in the company. John, who changed his name by deed poll from Rinehart to Hancock, fell out with his mother in the early 2000s.
Rinehart, worth an estimated $9 billion (€7 billion) according to Forbes, also had a volatile relationship with her late father, Lang Hancock, who founded Hancock Prospecting in 1952 after discovering the world’s largest iron ore deposit.
Ginia, the youngest of the family, is the only one of the four siblings who hasn’t taken Rinehart to court.
John, Bianca and Hope Welker, married to American businessman Ryan Welker, recently took legal action against their mother in a bid to remove her as head of a family trust, set up by Lang Hancock for his four grandchildren. It controls a quarter of the family's fortune.
The case will return to court on Friday (13 January) – although details might not be reported, because of the family’s confidentiality pact.
Three judges at the New South Wales Court of Appeal will determine if a suppression order should be lifted.