Gina Rinehart, a mining mogul from Australia, is perched to overtake Bill Gates and Carlos Slim as the world's wealthiest individual.

Rinehart inherited her father's mining business - Hancock Prospecting - in 1992 after Langley Hancock died. At the time, she was 38, widowed, and caring for four children.

Rinehart, 57, has publicly objected to being described as a mining heiress, reminding journalists that her father's estate was bankrupt at the time of his death. Rinehart has stated the she was left with substantial debts and liabilities and no inherited money.

As executive chairman of the  HPPL group of companies, she has grown it into a massive iron ore empire and accumulated personal wealth of roughly $10 billion Australian dollars, making her the wealthiest person in Australia. A recent Ctigroup Global Markets analysis projected that Rinehart's wealth could escalate to $100 billion.

Rinehart personal net worth is as high as it is due in large part to the fact that she owns her group of companies outright, with no shareholders. The analysis positioned Hancock Prospecting as the fifth largest mining company, but it is the only one on the list that is owned entirely by an individual.

Rinehart has no intention of resting on her laurels, regardless of where she ranks on Forbes' billionaire list. She is expanding Hancock Prospecting's concerns into coal mining, having recently completed a trial coal extractiom from a test pit she funded, the first step in pioneering a new industry of exporting thermal coal.

In addition to being sensitive to misunderstandings about the source of her wealth, Rinehart is eager to receive acknowledgements for her continued contributions.

For the cost of building this trial mine alone, I could have bought myself a beautiful new private jet, she told an audience who had assembled for the inaugural coal extraction. But you've seen those trucks and shovels out there. Who would be paying the wages of these contractors if I had spent that on a luxurious private jet and two pilots?

Indeed.... I could have dotting for myself one or two beautiful yachts like many of my friends have and employed six or more yacht crew and taken off.