Pilbara iron ore mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest have taken the top two spots in The Financial Review Rich List in 2020.
Rinehart’s worth shot up by 109 per cent compared with last year’s list, to a record $28.89 billion, cementing her as Australia’s richest person.
Forrest is now worth $23 billion, up from $7.99 billion on last year’s list, as he, Rinehart and other iron ore miners bask in a surge in demand for iron ore from China as the nation progresses infrastructure projects.
A total of 12 rich listers had direct exposure to Western Australia’s mines, doubling their collective wealth to almost $80 billion.
Western Australia increased its billionaires to 21 from 19 last year, reflective of its industries flourishing despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mining was also responsible for Tasmania welcoming its first billionaire in 2020, as Elphinstone Group mining services company founding owner Dale Elphinstone increased his wealth from $814 million to $1.08 billion.
The Financial Review described 2020’s Rich List as “one of the most turbulent years the Rich List team has ever encountered.”
“At the start of the pandemic, many of the fortunes of the nation’s wealthiest were crumbling, but they have proven to be exceptional business builders,” Rich List co-editor Julie-anne Sprague said.
“They have taken advantage of shifting demands within the economy, driving overall wealth to new highs.”
Australia’s top five richest people was rounded out by Rinehart, Forrest, manufacturing billionaire Anthony Pratt (worth $19.75 billion), property giant Hui Wing Mau ($18.06 billion) and technology chief executive Mike Cannon-Brookes ($16.93 billion).