1…Precious Metals / Diamonds

Alberto Bailleres Gonzalez

Born with the ultimate silver spoon in his mouth
$21bn+ | 81 | Married | 4 Children | Mexico | ↑

The Bailleres Gonzalez fortune grew $1.7 billion over the last year and the family shoots up five spots in the ranking.

The bump wasn’t from Gonzalez’s primary asset – world no. 1 silver miner Fresnillo – which had a lacklustre 2012, but from growth in his insurance, department store and bottling companies.

Gonzalez’s wealth is not as tied up as others on the list and he’s received dividends over the last decade of at least $2 billion to indulge his favourite pastimes of bullfighting and horseracing.

Despite his advanced age he is still actively involved with ITAM, the private university whose main benefactor was his father Raul.

Prospects: Good – Mexico is benefitting from a stronger US and family control over the group is firmly established

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Henry Sapiecha

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2…Iron Ore & Steel

Alisher Usmanov

Not Russia’s richest man for nothing
$21bn+ | 59 | Married | 2 Children | Russia | ↑

The Uzbek-born Moscovite spent six years in the 1980s in jail on fraud charges and on release started cobbling together steel mills and iron ore mines which he consolidated into Metalloinvest in 2006 before moving into tech and telecoms.

Got in on the ground floor of Russia’s largest web firm, Twitter, Groupon, Facebook and China and the world’s largest ecommerce firm Alibaba. Raised $2bn with blockbuster London IPO of cellphone co Megafon just last November. Bonus: Stock is up 50% since then.

Amid persistent allegations he’s friends with Russian mafioso, he was bailed out by Russian state bank VTB to the tune of $2bn escaping the 2008 financial crisis unscathed. Repaid the Kremlin’s largesse by among other gestures buying cellist Rostropovich’s art collection and donating it to the state.

Owns part of Arsenal to the chagrin of the English football club’s fans and last year picked up a kitted out Airbus A340 to attend board meetings at his headquarters in the British Virgin Islands tax haven.

Prospects: Good – the best connections and diversification paid off, and he’s sitting on a cool $7bn cash pile

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Henry Sapiecha

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3…Iron Ore & Steel

Georgina Rinehart

Absolute ruler of iron ore, coal and the family trust
$17bn-$18bn | 59 | Widow | 4 Children | Australia | ↑

Rinehart inherited Hancock Prospecting from her father Lang Hancock who discovered the world’s largest iron deposit in the Pilbara in 1952.

A handsome stream of royalties from Rio Tinto and ownership of various coal and iron ore projects in Australia, should keep Rinehart near the top of mining’s richest despite a few legal setbacks in 2012 and the institution of a tax she fought so hard against.

Move into media, statements about Australians’ work ethic and secession politics has made Rinehart a polarizing figure in her home country, even as her private life continues to be marred by a bitter family feud.

Prospects: Good – no longer set to become world’s richest person, but her quality properties will continue to attract investment


Henry Sapiecha

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4Base Metals

Iris Fontbona

Married into Chile’s richest family at age 19
$16bn-$17bn | 70 | Widow | 3 Children | Chile | ↓

Iris is the widow of Andronico Luksic who built London-listed Antofagasta into one of the world’s largest copper producers from 1980 until his death in 2005.Luksic had a lucky break early on when a Japanese company paid him US$500,000 – a tidy sum in 1954 – for an Atacama desert concession.Nippon Mines paid in dollars instead of the pesos Luksic was asking for and he used the windfall to build an empire that today includes banks, breweries and ports.Luksic’s five offspring, two from an earlier marriage, are actively involved in the business and also own two beach resorts in Croatia, bought in honour of the patriarch’s origins.

Prospects: Good – Chile is on growth path and copper fundamentals remain strong

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Henry Sapiecha
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Rinat Akhmetov

A coal miner’s son who cornered an entire industry
$15bn-$17bn | 46 | Married | 2 Children | Ukraine | ↑ ↓

Akhmetov, still only in his early 30s, made the most of the chaotic break-up of the Soviet Union and like many of his oligarch pals picked up privatized state companies for cents on the rouble.

The politically connected ex-parliamentarian’s 100%-owned conglomerate SCM controls over 60% of coal production and energy generation in Ukraine. Little is known about his private life and estimates of his wealth vary wildly – some putting it as high as $25bn.

He owns the Shakhtar Donetsk (Shakhtar means “miner”) soccer club in his hometown, but spends most of his time in London where he owns a $220m pied-a-terre and has Kazakhmys’ Vladimir Kim as a neighbour.

Prospects: Difficult to say – he’s apparently fallen out with long-time collaborator, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, but his wealth appears immune to market or political forces


Henry Sapiecha

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6…Base Metals

German Larrea & Family

The lesser spotted Mexican king of copper
$15bn-$17bn | 59 | Married | Mexico| ↑

German Larrea and his mother Sara Mota de Larrea together own 52% of Grupo Mexico, the world’s seventh largest copper producer and the Latin American country’s dominant railroad firm.

German inherited the business from his father Jorge who built up the conglomerate after buying two copper mines from the Mexican government in the 1980s.

The base and precious metals miner has been plagued by strikes at its 100-year old Cananea mine which forced German to make an extremely rare public appearance in court.

Grupo Mexico courted controversy when it attempted to merge 80%-owned Southern Copper Corp and Asarco. In a now infamous case in October 2011 a Delaware judge ruled Grupo Mexico must return $1.3 billion to Southern Copper for forcing Asarco to overpay for Minera México.

Prospects: Good – the company is expanding operations in its home country, Chile and Peru and has put most of its legal and labour problems in the past.


Henry Sapiecha

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7…Iron Ore & Steel

Lakshmi Mittal

Being named after goddess of wealth and prosperity should help
$15bn-$16bn | 62 | Married | 2 Children | India | ↓

In 2008 Mittal stood $45 billion strong but with so much of his wealth tied up in ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker with coking coal and iron ore mines around the globe, he’s very exposed to any downside in the sector.

He’s splashed more than $400m on mansions in ‘Billionaires Row’ – Kensington Palace Gardens in his adopted home London and also sponsored the controversial steel structure dominating the city’s Olympic Park.

An avid skier, he owns a favourite bauble of billionaires, a soccer club, and famously spent $60m on his daughter’s five-day wedding in Paris which culminated in dinner at Versailles.

Prospects: Not great – huge debt problems and continuing weakness in core market Europe


Henry Sapiecha

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8…Base Metals

Vladimir Potanin

Nickel baron and Renaissance man
$14bn | 52 | Married | 3 Children| Russia | ↓

Potanin now owns 28% of Norilsk Nickel, top nickel and palladium miner, and is CEO again after settling a 5-year dispute with co-shareholder and Rusal chief Oleg Deripaska after President Vladimir Putin banged some heads together.

Potanin also controls Russia’s biggest media group, is a big promoter of Russian arts and took it on upon himself to finance the $2.2bn ski-resort for Russia’s hosting of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Fluent in English and French, in 1996 at the tender age of 35 he had a brief stint as First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. He’s vowed to give most of his fortune to charity.

Prospects: Not good – the Sochi project is unlikely to ever turn a profit and Norilsk has been forced to pay huge dividends to Rusal with a nickel price that’s going nowhere


Henry Sapiecha

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9…Iron Ore & Steel

Vladimir Lisin

Welding together a steel and transportation giant
$14bn | 56 | Married | 3 Children| Russia | ↓

Tanking stock in his Novolipetsk Steel has wiped out $10 billion of Lisin’s wealth since 2011.

The steelmaker, which traces its roots to the 1930s, owns Russia’s third largest iron ore mine.

Lisin picked up his 85% stake when the state-run company was privatized in the 1990s, and after taking it public in 2005 used the proceeds to move into railways, shipping and ports on the Baltic and Black seas.

A gun enthusiast, he owns a 1,300 hectare 17th-century Scottish castle to indulge his passion for grouse and deer hunting. Lisin started out as a welder and graduated from the Siberian Metallurgical Institute in 1979 and also holds doctorates in Metal Engineering and Economics.

Prospects: Middling – Novolipetsk’s biggest worries have abated, but Russian economic growth is slowing


Henry Sapiecha

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mikhail-prokhorov image


Mikhail Prokhorov

Presidential candidate, kickboxer, playboy and occasional miner
$13bn | 47 | Single | Russia | ↑

He’s a 6’8″ martial arts expert and ‘freestyle’ jet ski champ and owner of Brooklyn Nets that fits the title playboy to a t.

Prokhorov is from proud Russian farm stock, made his money during the Yeltzin era snagging a majority stake in Norilsk Nickel with Vladimir Potanin, but their friendship came to an abrupt end when Prokhorov sold his 25% stake to fellow oligarch Oleg Deripaska in 2007.

Quirks include shunning vodka and mobile phones, publishing ‘Snob’ magazine in the US with his beloved sister and running for president against Vladimir Putin in 2012, garnering 8% of the vote without really trying.

Prefers staying liquid. $10bn of his fortune is cold hard cash, but can be sloppy with money: once forfeited a $55m deposit on a French Riviera mansion.

Prospects: Good – sold his stake in Polyus Gold for $3.6bn in February and is polishing his copper-nickel firm Intergeo for a Toronto listing


Henry Sapiecha

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