Coal�s rich list

IT’S good to be in Australian coal these days – and even better if you own a good chunk or have recently sold a coal company, according to the latest BRW Rich 200 list.

Rebecca Lawson

Entries on the rich list are coal men Ric Stowe – worth $560 million and owning one of only two coal companies in WA – and Ken Talbot ($465 million) who is facing 35 corruption charges.

Another coal man, Tony Haggarty came in at No. 145 with $279 million, and others to make the under $300 million club were Aquila Resources head Tony Poli, debuting at $260 million, and former Excel coal man Chris Ellis at $210 million.

While coal was a major list feature, it was iron ore that made it big, with the billion-dollar club hosting no less than four mining industry figures, all holding iron ore projects in Western Australia.

Lagging behind the usual suspects of media mogul James Packer (worth $7.25 billion), retail magnate Frank Lowy ($6.51 billion) and manufacturing giant Richard Pratt ($5.4 billion), Australia's richest woman and wealthiest mining figure Gina Rinehart came in at No. 4 with her fortune worth $4 billion.

However, many are suspecting that Rinehart may soon challenge Packer for the No. 1 spot – last year Rinehart was worth $1.8 billion – when the Hope Downs joint venture with Rio Tinto starts iron ore shipments early next year.

The massive project is currently under construction but when it comes online, it is expected to have an annual production of at least 30 million tonnes of iron, which is estimated to be worth some $2 billion at current prices.

Following her closely in fifth place and making his debut into the billion-dollar club, Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has seen his fortune jump from $810 million last year to $3.89 billion.

The debut is courtesy of the extraordinary growth of his 39%-owned Fortescue Metals Group, where its shares closed a year ago today at $7.40 and were now trading at $36.72, higher than mining giant's BHP Billiton's share price.

The children of Lang Hancock's buddy Peter Wright, Angela Bennett and Michael Wright, came in at No. 27 with their fortune of $1.11 billion, climbing from $900 million last year.

The magazine expects their personal wealth to continue growing, with iron ore royalties from a deal struck by their father with Rio Tinto to continue increasing.

Their latest annual cheque from the mining giant came in at an estimated $65 million.

Closing out the billion-dollar club is another debutant Clive Palmer, sneaking in with his fortune worth $1 billion.

Palmer last year made a deal with Chinese company CITIC worth at least $415 million to develop Mineralogy's magnetite resources.

Jubilee Mines founder Kerry Harmanis came in at No. 83 with his fortune of $433 million but could jump a few places once mining begins at the Alec Mairs 2 and Tapinos/Prospero mines, all located near Jubilee's Cosmos nickel mine.

Australia's biggest private prospector Mark Creasy came in at No. 132, worth $300 million, up from $200 million last year.

Creasy also holds a large portfolio of shares, with BRW estimating its worth at more than $170 million.

Uranium man and Paladin Resources managing director John Borshoff made his debut in the list with a fortune of $205 million but still drives around in a 1989 Ford Fairlane.

And rounding out the mining industry entrants on the Rich list is Normandy Mining founder Robert de Crespigny with $192 million and taking out the 195th place.

Crespigny's latest venture is Scarborough Minerals, which is in merger negotiations with Mineral Securities.