Wright Prospecting to have its day in court

A judge has declared mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting must go to court to settle a mine ownership conflict with the family of her father’s previous partner.

Hancock wanted the court to dismiss without trial the lawsuit demanding ownership of half the company’s stake in a mine being built in Western Australia.

But West Australian Supreme Court judge Rene Le Miere in Perth rebuffed the request, the SMH reports.

“I am unable to reach the required level of certainty that the defence will succeed,” Le Miere wrote in his verdict on Tuesday.

A writ lodged in September last year said Wright Prospecting wants 50 per cent of Hancock Prospecting’s stake in three tenements called Hope Downs 4, 5, and 6.

“Wright Prospecting welcomes the judge’s decision,” the company said in a statement.

“Wright Prospecting now intends to resume proceedings in this matter.”

Hancock Prospecting and Rio Tinto own the Hope Downs assets together under a 2005 deal.

Hancock Prospecting’s chief financial officer Jay Newby said after the lawsuit was filed Wright Prospecting’s lawsuit was ‘curious’ because Rinehart revealed a mining partnership for the properties with Rio Tinto more than seven years ago.

Wright Prospecting “waited until now, when construction of the Hope 4 mine is nearing completion, and has provided none of the significant funding required for such, to lodge such an unusual big for unearned late participation,” he said.

Hancock Prospecting was accused of violating trust after it sold the property without consulting Wright Prospecting and violating fiduciary commitments.

Wright Prospecting wants records of all profits Hancock Prospecting received from those assets and damages for the violations.

It also asked the court to pronounce Hancock Prospecting retained half the property in trust for Wright Prospecting, and pay it any revenue from the sale and royalties.

Hancock Prospecting and Wright Prospecting won a $200 million lawsuit against Rio Tinto in May after Hancock initiated a lawsuit asking for royalties from more than 20 years ago, according to an agreement on May 5, 1970.

The royalty dispute was over Channar mine and the Eastern Range mine.

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