MELBOURNE May 13 Rio Tinto has been ordered to pay royalties expected to total about $200 million to Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, and another wealthy family stemming from an iron ore agreement dating back to 1970.
Rio Tinto said on Monday it was examining the judgement by the Supreme Court of New South Wales and considering its options.
The Supreme Court ruled last Friday that Rio Tinto must pay Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting (HPPL) and its former partner Wright Prospecting (WPPL) royalties on production from two iron ore deposits in West Australia state's Pilbara region.
"WPPL and HPPL are entitled to be paid, and MBM (Mount Bruce Mining) is obliged to pay them, the royalty under the 1970 Agreement in respect of ore mined in Eastern Range and Channar," Justice David Hammerschlag said in his ruling.
Mount Bruce is a Rio Tinto subsidiary. The amount of the royalties due have been agreed by Rio Tinto, Wright and Hancock, but spokesmen for both sides said the figure was confidential.
Wright and Hancock's lawyer Allan Myers told the court that they were claiming A$200 million ($200 million) in lost royalties. Both sides declined to confirm the figure.
Rio Tinto had argued it did not need to pay royalties because it believed Eastern Range and Channar did not fall within the 1970 agreement.