The multibillion-dollar Rinehart family feud could be thawing, with signs that the door has been opened to a potential peace deal.
It is believed Gina Rinehart and her estranged children have indicated they might be prepared to settle to end the public bloodletting surrounding the seven-month court stoush, paving the way for a possible low-key resolution to one of the most dramatic family battles in Australian history.
Mrs Rinehart's estranged son, John Hancock, was seen on Wednesday in the Perth headquarters of Roy Hill Holdings which is majority owned by Hancock Prospecting. He was also seen this week in the offices of Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group.
He refused to comment yesterday on the two meetings and linked the visits to his work with the burgeoning Future Material Corporation, which develops wall panels which can be used as an alternative building material to concrete and brick.
"Speedy delivery of housing is a problem facing all mining companies in the Pilbara and I've been meeting as many as I can to explain how FBM can help," he said.
"I've no comment on my personal matters other than there's always an open door for my mother."
Lawyers for Mrs Rinehart warned in September that the family's legal feud could unsettle investors and be "fatal" to Roy Hill, which is set to become one of Australia's biggest mining projects.
This week's meeting and a potential business deal between her son and the company, however, indicates a smoothing of the tense relations that have marked the case since Mrs Rinehart's children launched action against her late last year to remove her as head of the family trust.
It also comes amid speculation that both sides are keen to find some middle ground to end the action which has embarrassed the fiercely private mining magnate, aired the family's dirty laundry and is costing her three estranged children about $100,000 a month in legal fees. But sources said that despite the parties appearing to be willing to shift ground, any talk of an imminent resolution was premature because there was a lot of bad blood to overcome.
In documents before the NSW Supreme Court, Mrs Rinehart's three estranged children - Hope Welker, Bianca Rinehart and Mr Hancock - have accused her of "deceptive, manipulative and disgraceful conduct" in her handling of the family trust.