Ginia Rinehart has sparked celebrations of another significant milestone in her family's iron ore history, with first ore leaving the Rio Tinto-operated Hope Downs 4 mine.
The third-youngest of Gina Rinehart's children has used family company Hancock Prospecting's website to announce first ore from the Hope Downs 4 development was imminent, and that the maiden train should have started loading yesterday.
Ms Rinehart, who is understood to be undergoing a similar initiation-into-mining program to that undertaken by older sister Bianca earlier last decade, on Sunday posted a photo on the Hancock website of a notice board sheet that declared "days to first ore on train - 1". She captioned the photo with the line "impending first load out of ore wagons for the new Hope Downs 4 mine".
Rio, the 50 per cent owner of the Hope Downs venture which has built and operated the $US1.6 billion Hope Downs 4 project, just as it did with the original venture, would not comment. However, it is understood the first trial load of Hope Downs 4 ore left by rail yesterday.
While mining began more than a month ago to build up stockpiles, it is understood work is continuing on some parts of the Hope Downs 4 infrastructure and it will be at least another month before regular shipments from the mine begin.
At full capacity, Hope Downs 4 will produce 15 million tonnes of ore a year, complementing output of about 30mtpa at Hope Downs.
The additional tonnage will greatly enhance the royalty flow to the Rinehart family, although the split among the children remains unclear amid significant legal battles between two siblings and Mrs Rinehart.
Mrs Rinehart is chasing about $7 billion in debt to fund her 55mtpa Roy Hill port, rail and mine project, the first major iron ore mine the family plans to build and operate. The development remains contingent on Hancock Prospecting, which owns 70 per cent of Roy Hill, securing the necessary funding. Sources suggested Ginia accompanied her mother on the visit to Hope Downs 4, possibly designed to highlight Hancock Prospecting's financial strength to potential Roy Hill financiers.