Gina Rinehart has used a rare TV interview to talk about her father‘s discovery of the Hamersley iron ore deposits.
The first episode of a two-part ABC Australian Story special aired on Monday night.
The first instalment focused on the Hancock dynasty, from Lang Hancock’s discovery of the massive iron ore deposit, to the way in which he groomed Rinehart from a young age to take over the family business.
It comes as Rinehart moves closer to realising her father’s dream of owning a mine, with the $10 billion Roy Hill mine scheduled to export first ore in September.
The project undertook the largest funding package for any project worldwide, securing $4 billion in funding from export credit agencies and an additional $3 billion from commercial banks.
Describing her relationship with her father, Rinehart said they spent a lot of time together.
“My father and I were very, very close. On the station we were together all the time. I was even sent out on exploration things. And we spent an inordinate amount of time together,” Rinehart said.
Rinehart said her father always wanted to move from someone who received royalties from ore, to a part-owner of an operation.
“He just kept working through his adult life to try to build up towards, you know, being able to be an owner-operator,” Rinehart said.
“He actually got his money, dumped it in holes in the ground,” Rinehart said of Hancock’s constant exploration efforts.
“I know very well my father would have great feelings about what I’ve done.”
Family friend and Australian businessman John Singleton said while Hancock had the dream of building a mine, Rinehart turned it into a reality.
“Gina’s great strength, where she will go down in history: she took her Dad’s big dreams and made them big realities,” Singleton said.
“She built the big mine. She financed the big mine. She made the dream come true.”
Business woman and friend Imelda Roche said the public should take more pride in what Rinehart has achieved.
“Every time, you know, a new news story breaks…there’s usually something derogatory to say about her; about the family relationships. And it puzzles me why Australia doesn’t take more pride in her achievement,” Roche said.
“The tenacity and determination that Gina demonstrates is no doubt part of her heritage.”
Rinehart’s two eldest children, John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart, are battling their mother in the Federal and Supreme Court systems over their share in the Roy Hill project and the family's $4 billion trust.
They dismissed the Australian Story special as a "public relations exercise" in a letter sent by their lawyers to ABC managing director Mark Scott.
“Gina Rinehart is of course entitled to explain and defend her conduct through the media if she so chooses,” lawyers wrote.
“However, can it be in the public interest or consistent with the obligations of the public broadcaster to apply public funds to this end?”
Alluding to the legal battles, Rinehart said her father would not be happy.
“Dad knows how hard it is to build a company; to try and entice financiers to trust us to do the debt financing…and yet still be "whatevered" by a whole lot of litigation: this is not the sort of thing Dad would be thrilled with,” Rinehart said.
Part two of the Australian Story special will air on Monday, July 13.