Women in Metals and Mining

Gina Rinehart

Executive Chairman
Hancock Prospecting

Gina Rinehart rebuilt an iron ore business from a precarious situation and took it to greater heights, witnessing and contributing to the development of the Pilbara region in the process. Rinehart steered the company towards the successful financing and startup of Roy Hill, a $10 billion project and Australia's largest single iron ore mine, which began shipping the raw material in 2015.

Could you say a little about your career and what attracted you to mining?

I was very fortunate to be brought up on two stations in Australia's northwest, Mulga Downs and then Hamersley. So my first career as a child was helping on the stations. I loved station life and the north. This area, once the government's export embargo was lifted, and then West Australia's pegging ban was lifted, that is its ability to get exploration title, changed as iron ore mine after iron ore mine opened and much benefit was brought to the previously remote and somewhat inhospitable region.

Post offices, police stations, fire brigade stations, doctors, shops, entertainment, better roads and airports, things people in cities expect came to the Pilbara region, which is now well-known as Australia's premier iron ore producer and exporter.

So I saw it firsthand, the benefits mining brought to the northwest and indeed to West Australia. Pre the Pilbara iron ore industry West Australia had been a mendicant or handout state, unable to support itself. So with my father as a very successful prospector, my love for the area and appreciating the benefits mining brings, my career in the mining industry was sealed.

I became executive chair of Hancock Prospecting in 1992, when our company was unfortunately in a desperate and difficult position. Few assets were left what assets were left were mortgaged to the hilt or under legal threat or claim, including some tenement assets which only had temporary title then, with the company also having extensive liabilities and heavy contingent liabilities.

After decades of considerable stress, dedication and very hard work, and three major mines and one mega mine established while I was chair and CEO, our company is now the leading private mining company in Australia, the most successful in Australia's history.

What challenges does being a female CEO of a major miner present?

Frankly, I've been too busy working and dedicated to the challenges in our company group, to really focus on gender issues. It was said about me I worked like 20 men. A female I greatly admire, one of Britain's prime ministers, Baroness Thatcher certainly had these traits, as well as being exceptionally brave and strong.

I'm not saying I'm like this outstanding lady, but I too do think sometimes women have a beneficial trait, we're often not as guided or misguided by ego. In my case, it's been a benefit I believe. I've just focused on what's best for our company group. If I'm not... because I'm not a man, frankly, so what. When such man has rescued and built a now major company into one of the most successful private companies in Australia, and now an international concern, maybe they'd have something I should listen to.