The Story of Lang Hancock: The Mining Magnate

On this day, June 10 in the year 1909, the man who discovered the world’s largest iron ore deposit was born in Perth, Western Australia. His name is Langley Frederick George Hancock whose daughter Gina Rinehart is now Australia’s richest woman with a net worth of $15.7 billion according to as of June 10, 2020.

Lang Hancock
Lang Hancock (Credit:

Lang was the son of a wealthy land-owning couple in Western Australia. The eldest of four children, he finished his primary education at the Convent of Mercy School and his high school at Hale in Perth. After that, he went to work on his father’s Mulga Downs Station, a sheep and cattle station which currently occupies an area of 950,000 acres (384,451 ha) . At the age of 26, he took over the management of the property from his father. Meanwhile, he learned how to fly a plane. During the World War II, he served in the Australian Army as sergeant.

A hardworking man who does not mind dirtying his hand, Lang discovered asbestos at Wittenoom Gorge near his family’s property. He partnered with a school friend, Peter Wright, to put up Hancock Prospecting Ltd., a mining firm to produce asbestos. Later, the company began mining copper, tin, and lead. In 1952, while flying to Perth with his wife Hope, he discovered what would become the world’s largest iron ore deposit in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia.

It took many more years of negotiation with the government and mining companies for the iron ore mine to start operation. In the mid-1960s, a deal with the Rio Tinto Group was entered and Lang and his business partner Peter got an annual royalty of A$25 million to be split evenly between the two men. This would ultimately become the source of Lang Hancock’s wealth.

Lang Hancock married three times. He had an only daughter, Gina, with his second wife. His third wife was his former maid, Rose, a Filipina who was 41 years younger. Gina accused Rose of murdering his father and a long running legal battle ensued, only to be dismissed by the court declaring that Lang died of heart disease. He was 82 years old when he died in 1992 at his mansion which was inherited by Rose. The business however was inherited by Gina.

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