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World's Richest Woman Comes From Down Under, Aussie Mag Says

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Raising speculation about the role eating Vegemite plays in amassing wealth, Australian magazine BRW has named compatriot Gina Rinehart the world's richest woman. Her fortune is worth US $28.6 billion, putting her ahead of her closest rival, Walmart (WMT) beneficiary Christy Walton, according to the magazine's ranking.

Rinehart is head of Aussie mining company Hancock Prospecting. The company had a banner year thanks to increasing iron ore prices and demand from Asia, the magazine noted, adding that her wealth grows by about $1,000,000 every half hour and has tripled this year.

Only in Australia does she hold this title, however. According to the latest Bloomberg Billionaires Index, released May 22, Walton is the world's richest woman, coming in at No. 10 on the rich list. Rinehart is No. 31 on this list, well below not only Christy Walton but also Liliane Bettencourt of L'Oreal and the other female Walmart heiress, Alice Walton. Bloomberg lists Rinehart's net worth at $18.1 billion, just a few notches above Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook (FB).

The Forbes list of the world's billionaires similarly places Walton at No. 11, with Rinehart at No. 29, again below Bettencourt and Alice Walton.

Whatever BRW's methodology, it's clear that Rinehart is the richest woman in Australia, at any rate. The three lists are unanimous in naming the top three richest people in the world as America Movil (AMX) honcho Carlos Slim, Microsoft's (MSFT) Bill Gates, and Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK-A) Warren Buffett, respectively.

“If the demand for natural resources remains strong, additional multi-billion mines are almost inevitable,” Andrew Heathcote, BRW Rich List editor, said in a statement. "There is a real possibility that Rinehart will become not just the richest woman in the world but the richest person in the world.”

Contributing to her wealth are her deals with Rio Tinto Group (RIO) and GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd., as well as her investments in Fairfax Media Ltd. (FFXLF.PK) and Ten Network Holdings Ltd., Bloomberg Businessweek notes.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.