Mining magnate Gina Rinehart faces a multimillion-dollar legal bill to a rival company linked to the descendants of a man her father pioneered Western Australia's iron ore industry with.
Wright Prospecting and Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting trace their origins to WA mining pioneers Lang Hancock and Peter Wright, who discovered a number of immense ore prospects together and agreed to divide them up.
One of the assets is the high-grade iron ore deposit Rhodes Ridge in the Pilbara, which Wright Prospecting established an ownership share of after a series of court victories in 2010.
Hancock Prospecting fought Wright Prospecting over the issue, but was denied an appeal in the High Court after using up its legal avenues in WA.
The costs of that legal fight - which the Australian Financial Review reports is believed to run close to $10 million - had been unresolved.
But a judgment handed down in West Australian Supreme Court on Thursday ruled Hancock Prospecting must pay the majority of the bill.
The AFR reported Rhodes Ridge is valued in the billions of dollars and is ripe for development over the next decade by Wright Prospecting along with its project partner Rio Tinto, which also runs a JV with Hancock Prospecting at the nearby Hope Downs No.1 and Hope Downs No.4 mines.
The battle for Rhodes Ridge began when Hancock Prospecting opposed a request from Wright Prospecting to hand over the deposit, which had remained under the 1984 partnership umbrella created by Peter Wright and Lang Hancock.
The agreement gave both parties the option of transferring the assets nominated to them out of the partnership, with a schedule setting out the allocation of assets between them.
Rhodes Ridge is estimated to hold 5.3 billion tonnes of iron ore at grades of up to 65 per cent.