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Published 05 September 2012 06:18, Updated 13 September 2012 04:16
Hard hit ... Falling iron ore prices have lopped about $9.5 billion Gina Rinehart worth since the BRW Rich 200 was released in May. Photo: Ron D’Raine
About $15 billion has been wiped from the wealth of Australia’s richest miners in the past four months. The dramatic fall in the iron ore price is the biggest contributor to the decrease. Several of Australia’s wealthiest people have high exposure to the iron ore sector and their fortunes have been slashed as a result.
The iron ore spot price is down from $US145.4 a tonne at the end of April, when calculations were made for the BRW Rich 200, which was published in May. Since then it has fallen by 39 per cent to about $US90 a tonne.
Hardest hit by the decrease is Gina Rinehart, who has lost about $9.5 billion. Her wealth has fallen to $19.7 billion when the current iron ore price is factored into forward earnings assumptions about Hope Downs, Roy Hill and her Hamersley Iron royalty stream.
Rinehart’s immense fortune means that her losses are much greater than any other Australian billionaire, but many others have been hard hit.
Andrew Forrest has lost more than $2 billion in four months. His wealth is down from $5.89 billion when the Rich 200 was last published to $3.83 billion.
Forrest was worth $6.18 billion on the 2011 list and $9.41 billion in 2008.
Most of Forrest’s wealth is directly attributed to his Fortescue Metals Group shares. He spent $38 million in recent days on 10 million shares (or about 1 per cent of his total holding).
Swiss-based Australian-citizen Ivan Glasenberg has lost more than $1 billion over the past four months. As chief executive and a major shareholder in commodities trading giant Glencore International, Glasenberg is highly exposed to the resources sector.
His wealth is down from $7.40 billion to $6.10 billion.
Glasenberg qualifies for the Rich 200 based on his Australian citizenship despite having not lived here for at least 20 years.
Dramatic falls in value have also been felt by the top mining companies. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are down 27 per cent and 10 per cent respectively over the same four-month period.
The falls suffered by the miners have not consistently been replicated in other industries.
Australia’s richest non-resources billionaire Frank Lowy has enjoyed a 3 per cent increase in his wealth since May. It is up from $6.47 billion to $6.66 billion.
The S&P/ASX 200 is down 1.8 per cent over the same period.
A version of this story first appeared in theWeekend Australian Financial Review.