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The Rhodes Ridge undeveloped iron ore deposit that is located 80 kilometres northwest of Newman, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, was discovered in 1972, by Lang Hancock and Peter Wright.

Rhodes Ridge Founders Split Holdings to Avoid Future Challenges

In 1984, Hancock and Wright agreed to split, between each other, the various iron ore prospects they jointly owned, on an equal basis. This was done to avoid legal arguments that might arise in the future as to which family was entitled to what prospect, following their deaths.

The Rhodes Ridge prospect, that is potentially worth billions of dollars, finished up being majority owned by Rio Tinto, holding a 50 percent interest, with Hancock Prospecting and Wright Prospecting, the companies formed by Lang Hancock and Peter Wright, each claiming a 25 percent interest.

Cazaly and Fortescue Moved to Acquire Rhodes Ridge From Rio Tinto

In 2008, exploration company, Cazaly Resources, challenged Rio Tinto in the Western Australian Mining Wardens Court, on the grounds that Rio Tinto had not undertaken any work on the Rhodes Ridge deposit for more than 35 years. Cazaly Resources had formed a partnership with Fortescue Metals Group to develop the Rhodes Ridge project as a major iron ore mine, should its legal action be successful. However, Cazaly Resources was not successful in its legal action against Rio Tinto, and the deposit remained undeveloped.

Rhodes Ridge Ownership Arguments Taken to Court

Despite the foresight of the Rhodes Ridge founders, in their attempts to avoid inheritance action following their deaths, a decade long court battle was fought between Wright Prospecting and Hancock Prospecting over the ownership of the Rhodes Ridge deposit. Lang Hancock's daughter Gina Reinhart had by now taken over control of Hancock Prospecting and Angela Bennett, along with the estate of the late Michael Wright, controlled Wright Prospecting. Hancock Prospecting claimed that the 25 percent share in the project, that was claimed by Wright Prospecting, legally belonged to Hancock Prospecting. Wright Prospecting, claimed the 5.3 billion tonne iron ore prospect belonged to them. Hancock Prospecting lost its case in 2011.

The long running legal battle over the ownership of the, richest undeveloped iron ore deposit left in the Pilbara, was finally settled for all time, in 2013, when the High Court of Australia refused to hear an appeal lodged by Hancock Prospecting, against the Western Australian Supreme Court's earlier decision. The Rhodes Ridge iron ore project is now legally owned on a 50/50 basis between Wright Prospecting Pty Ltd and Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a major producer of iron ore, coal, bauxite, alumina, aluminium, uranium, copper, gold, diamonds, salt and energy across the globe. Businesses include open pit and underground mines, refineries, smelters, mills and power stations. Also a number of research facilities more


Rio Tinto
152-158 St George s Terrace
Perth, WA 6000



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