The court battle has its roots in the very founding of the Pilbara iron ore industry.
The founders of both companies, Lang Hancock and Peter Wright were key figures in the creation of the Pilbara iron ore industry.
Rinehart’s company Hancock Prospecting is defending an action brought by Wright’s descendants and revolves around a division of assets struck between Lang Hancock and Peter Wright. Under that division Hancock Prospecting had rights to Hope Downs 1 and has reaped royalties from it.
Wright Prospecting reckons it should have some of the Hope Downs 1 action too.
Hancock Prospecting wanted Rio Tinto’s Hamersley Iron to jointly defend the action and also be liable for any settlement, or at least a portion of any settlement.
It also wanted Hamersley Iron to give it access to communications between 2005 and 2010 with Hancock Prospecting relating to the tenements in question.
In a Supreme Court of Western Australia judgement handed down on Friday, Justice Rene Le Miere ordered that Hamersley may appear at the trial between Hancock Prospecting and Wright Prospecting and that Hamersley be bound by the outcome of those proceedings.
He also ordered that Hamersley give Hancock Prospecting access to the communications it sought.