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Gina Rinehart's three estranged children face an epic and costly court battle against their mother after the NSW Supreme Court signalled that the case which split the famous family would run for at least another year.

Justice Paul Brereton moved the bitter stoush towards trial yesterday and also awarded the children 80 per cent of pre-trial costs already racked up in their one-year battle to get their allegations against the mining magnate before the courts.

But he said the money would not be payable until legal proceedings were finalised, meaning they are unlikely to see it for years and will be unable to use it to pay their legal costs in the months ahead.

Hope Welker, Bianca Rinehart and John Hancock launched their surprise action against their mother in September last year and legal fees since then are believed to have cost them up to $100,000 a month. Bianca Rinehart is understood to have sold her house and some of her clothes while Ms Welker sold her jewellery to help raise the cash.

The children, who have been cut off financially since they launched their action, are also fighting a separate battle in WA to access royalty payments from the Hope Downs iron ore mine. Under the terms of a 2006 agreement, they say they are meant to have received royalties from January this year.