Gina Rinehart has told her bankers Roy Hill could have been twice as big had it not been for the financial troubles suffered by her family's company Hancock Prospecting after the high-grade iron ore deposit was pegged in the early 1990s.
At a formal function in Singapore yesterday to celebrate last month's signing of Roy Hill's $US7.2 billion debt deal - sealing funding for the 55 million-tonne-a-year mine, rail and port development - Mrs Rinehart used the occasion to open up about the early history of her involvement with Roy Hill.
"Times were pretty tight for our company in the 1990s as our company was in financial difficulty with debt to repay," she said. "Iron ore was of interest to no one. We could not afford to maintain all the rental and exploration requirements and unfortunately we lost about half the area we had originally pegged."
The iron ore magnate thanked Roy Hill's 30 per cent equity partners - POSCO, Marubeni and China Steel Corporation - for their support through the marathon debt funding negotiations, saying their 2012 decision to come on board was one the project's most significant moments.
Hancock retains 70 per cent.
"We arranged this investment without any investment bank assistance, without Federal government assistance and despite the negativity of MRRT (mining tax), carbon tax and city media."
While praising a number of her employees, Mrs Rinehart hinted at how intimately involved she had become in the project, referring to the opening of Roy Hill's headquarters near Perth International Airport.
"During my speech on this occasion I thanked the architect and building manager, Reuben Kooperman, not just for the finished product but for putting up with me during many weekends and nights while we drafted, redrafted and finalised the 'H' outside the building, and many interior details," she said.