Rinehart loses $8.6 billion but still Australia's richest

SYDNEY (AFP) - Mining magnate Gina Rinehart had A$7 billion (S$8.6 billion) wiped off her fortune in the past year but remains Australia's wealthiest person, an annual rich list showed on Wednesday.

Ms Rinehart, heiress to an iron ore prospecting empire built in Australia's resources-rich west, led the respected BRW Rich 200 list for a third year in a row with a personal fortune of A$22.02 billion.

But she also lost more money than anyone else thanks to plunging iron ore prices, giving up a quarter of her estimated wealth from last year of A$29.17 billion.

That means she lost more than A$19 million every day in the last 12 months, and takes her out of contention for world's richest woman, a title she claimed in 2012 from Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton.

Ms Rinehart was not the only mining billionaire to feel the squeeze with Mr Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive of newly-merged mining and commodities heavyweight GlencoreXstrata, down from second to fifth.

His fortune was put at A$5.61 billion, some A$1.79 billion lower than last year due to a falling company share price.

The Business Review Weekly magazine, known as BRW, said the five biggest falls this year were by mining industry figures, dragging down the value of the whole list.

Westfield shopping centre tycoon Frank Lowy moved up from third to second, making an extra A$400 million to be worth A$6.87 billion. Mr Lowy is one of 18 people who has appeared in the Rich 200 every year of its 30-year run.

One of the best performers was Mr James Packer whose growing gambling and hospitality business boosted his wealth to A$6.00 billion from A$5.21 billion to put him in third, the list showed.

Visy recycling group chairman Anthony Pratt rounded out the top five.

Men still dominate the BRW list with just 14 women among the top 200. Total wealth of the top 200 was down A$4.4 billion to A$17.6 billion, but this was mainly due to the slump in Ms Rinehart's fortune.