But her attempts to keep her private life private have unravelled, with details of a bitter family fight now public.
Never has so little been known about such a high profile person - the richest person in Australia and the richest woman in Asia.
Yet all that money has seemingly not brought her happiness. Gina Rinehart has four children from two marriages. Three of those children want to see her removed as Trustee over the family's billions.More stories from Today Tonight
“Today's public release of emails between mother and children reveals one truism that trumps cash,” Tim Treadgold, a resources journalist who has met and interviewed Rinehart several times over the years, said.
Gina Rinehart's mother died of breast cancer in 1983. John and Bianca are her children from her first marriage, to an Englishman named Greg Milton Her second marriage, to an older American corporate lawyer, produced two more children - Hope and Ginia.
Ginia is the only child standing by her mother in a bitter battle over control of the Hancock Family Trust.
“There's a very strange relationship between mother and children. It seems to vary from year to year, who the favoured child is. There's one at the top of the tree at the moment. That goes to the personality of the mother and the children,” Treadgold said.
“She sued her former stepmother; her father's long-time business partner - Peter Wright; and she's got litigation with three of her four adult children now,” Stephen Mayne, media analyst and founder of Crikey, said.
According to Meyne, Rinehart has exceeded expectations, despite her privileged beginnings.
“Gina Rinehart inherited an annual royalties stream from Rio Tinto for around $30 million a year. That's been rising with the mining boom, and that was the start of her wealth,” Meyne said.
“She lived in the Pilbara in Wittenoom. She sat on her father's knee from a very young time, so very much her father - Lang Hancock - taught her about the mining game.”
According to Mayne “Gina's wealth completely depends on iron ore prices. Iron ore prices have increased almost ten-fold since 2000, but if iron ore prices suddenly crashed, then her wealth would come back to less than $10 billion. If iron ore prices continue to soar, she may well one day be worth $50 billion - if she continues to expand and open new mines.”
Iron ore magnate Lang Hancock died in 1992. Gina inherited control of Hancock Prospecting, and began an all-out war with her father's former Filipino maid-turned-wife-number-three – Rose.
“What is my greatest asset? I know how to work. And Langley always told me 'she can't even boil an egg'. I'm not putting her down, but I feel sorry for her, and for her children. She could live a better life than this,” Rose Porteous said in an interview recorded in the 1990s.
This battle of the billions is almost certainly headed for the High Court.
“She's a hugely secretive person, who doesn't want the media to mention her. But bizarrely she buys into media companies, which creates a huge amount of attention for her,” Mayne said.
As Rinehart's wealth grows, so does her profile, and not just here. She is widely tipped to become the richest person on the planet - a lofty height with a view of the entire world, and they of her.
“She's going to be annoyed more and more by people like you and me talking about her, and she sits back and refuses to give interviews. People want to know more about her, and they deserve to know more about her, and at some point she's going to have to break cover,” Treadgold concluded.
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