On the eve of his civil trial against Gina Rinehart, John Hancock yesterday flagged a possible reconciliation with his multibillionaire mother, describing their relationship as "complex and deep".
Mr Hancock - who has waged an acrimonious two-year court battle against the mining magnate - said he believed their relationship could be salvaged eventually.
But he said next week's trial had to go ahead despite his mother's surprise decision to step down as head of the family trust at the centre of their legal battle.
Mr Hancock said her past conduct as trustee still needed to be examined because she wanted to have a say in who would replace her, something he believed she should not be allowed to have.
The two-year battle against Mrs Rinehart by her only son and her eldest daughter, Bianca Rinehart, is due to climax in a Sydney court next week and finally bring to a head one of the country's most famous and bitter family feuds.
Both sides have been locked in mediation this week to try to resolve an impasse over Mrs Rinehart's replacement as head of the trust, which owns almost a quarter of the family company, Hancock Prospecting.
Mr Hancock put himself forward, a move his mother opposed. She is backing her youngest daughter Ginia.
Mr Hancock said yesterday the only forum that could deal with the question of her replacement was a court.
A hearing would examine Mrs Rinehart's conduct as trustee, which he believed disqualified her from having a say in her replacement.
In an interview with The Weekend West yesterday, the 37-year-old father and businessman said that despite the public and acrimonious battle, he still believed his relationship with his mother could be repaired.
"Complex and deep relationships do have the potential to be salvaged after storms pass," he said.
The two-year build-up to the trial has grown increasingly acrimonious in recent months as the mining magnate failed in a series of attempts to have the case dropped or moved behind closed doors.
On Tuesday, her lawyers surprised the NSW Supreme Court with an 11th hour announcement that she would step down as trustee.
They said the capitulation meant the case was now "essentially over".
A day later, Ginia, a rival to John to become trustee, failed in an urgent appeal to have the case moved to arbitration and avert a public bloodletting of the allegations against her mother.
"I don't want to dwell on Ginia's loss," Mr Hancock said.
"And despite her behaviour in these matters, I will always be a fair and prompt trustee for all four of us."
Barring any last-minute settlement at the weekend, the hearing is expected to go ahead next week.
It will look at Mrs Rinehart's replacement and examine the involvement of key Hancock Prospecting staff and politicians, including Federal Government minister Barnaby Joyce, who intervened early in the case and tried to get it dropped.
_The West Australian _revealed last year that Mr Joyce contacted Mrs Rinehart's then 25-year-old daughter Hope Welker, praising her mother and urging her to drop the case, which she originally launched.
Mr Joyce had never met the New York-based 25-year-old and her email address was only known to a handful of people at the time.
When asked about the letter, Mr Joyce declined to comment, describing his approach to Mrs Rinehart's daughter as "sage advice".
Mr Hancock said a court must authorise the removal of a trustee, even if the trustee requested to be removed, and described Mr Joyce's involvement as astounding.
"This reason it was so astounding to me was that Barnaby Joyce emailed my sister Hope suggesting she take it out of the courts, which is the only forum able to remove a trustee," he said.
"If it was brought behind closed doors as he suggested, it would've been impossible to remove my mother.
"Barnaby, as a qualified accountant, would understand the procedure. His motivations, I don't know."
The trial is due to begin in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday.