SYDNEY - Mining magnate Gina Rinehart is growing her wealth at the rate of Aus$1 million (S$1.24 million) every half-hour, according to an annual list of Australia's 200 richest people published Thursday.
Rinehart, 58, heiress to an iron ore prospecting empire built in Australia's resources-rich west, led the respected BRW Rich 200 list for a second year in a row with a personal fortune of Aus$29.17 billion.
That represented an Aus$18.87 billion increase in her wealth over the past year as she rides Australia's resources boom like no one else.
"The increase in her wealth is unparalleled. It is a product of foreign investment in new projects, increased production and a recovery in the iron ore price over the past six months," said BRW.
When Rinehart made her debut on the list after the death of her father Lang Hancock in 1992, her net wealth was estimated at Aus$75 million.
But BRW said she is now the richest woman in the world ahead of Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton. Forbes in March estimated Walton's net worth at US$25.3 billion (S$32.3 billion).
Men still dominate the BRW list with Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive of the Swiss-based commodities trading firm Glencore, in second place despite his wealth falling to Aus$7.40 billion from Aus$8.80 billion.
Westfield shopping centre tycoon Frank Lowy was third with Aus$6.47 billion, ahead of Fortescue Metals chief Andrew Forrest and Anthony Pratt, the boss of packaging manufacturer Visy.
Flamboyant miner Clive Palmer slipped to eighth place from fifth with Aus$3.85 billion after his Resourcehouse cancelled its plan to list in Hong Kong for the fourth time.
A notable new entry was the wife of former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, with Therese Rein elbowing her way in at 198 with Aus$210 million after turning her Ingeus job-finding firm into a global brand.
The list revealed the number of resources barons fell to 22 from 28 but there was an increase in people making their money from property.