MAC: Mines and Communities

Exposing the world's top mineral "thieves"

Published by MAC on 2012-04-24

Over a third of them are London-based

Using data from Bloomberg and Forbes‘ long-running global rich list, has come up with more than 90 billionaires involved in minerals, metals and mining.

The website points out that some of those included on one list aren't included on the second. However, while the criteria may differ between them, two striking facts emerge from the available evidence.  

First is the remarkable advance over the past decade into the highest echelons of the industry's "leadership" by Russian and eastern European mining magnates.

Second is the prominence of men (there are only two women among the contenders) who have listed their operations primarily on the London Stock Exchange, or who have taken up residence in the UK capital.

Fifteen among the top forty billionaires fall into these categories, namely:  Mittal, Usmanov, Abramovich, Deripaska, Prokhorov, Rybolovlev, Glasenberg, Oppenheimer, Rashnikov, Abramov, Agarwal, Kim, Chodiev, Ibragimov and Machkevich.

The meek shall inherit the earth, but not its mineral rights: Meet mining's 40 richest billionaires

By Frik Els

16 April 2012

"The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights" - J. Paul Getty

With data gleaned from Bloomberg‘s new billionaire rankings and Forbes‘ long-running global rich list counts more than 90 billionaires involved in minerals, metals and mining.

While we leaned heavily on the two lists our criteria were slightly different when it came to putting billionaires in the mining bracket.

Eike Batista, number one on's list, does not appear in the Forbes mining and metals column for instance, despite his companies' extensive iron ore holdings and his roots in gold mining.

On the other hand we excluded many steel industry billionaires - who make up a substantial portion of the billionaires on the Forbes list - from our ranking.

If a steelmaker is vertically integrated (like most of the Russian firms are) and also has interest in mining iron ore, coal or other steelmaking resources he or she makes it in, but straight-up steel pipe makers, aluminium foundries and metal processors were excluded from our list.

Billionaires like the Reuben brothers whose fortunes were made in metal trading were excluded, but our list features fund managers and investors like Eric Sprott (#87) purely because he holds huge sway over precious metals markets and by his own admission holds 90% of his own assets in gold and silver. excluded those who made their money in oil and gas from the list save for N. Murray Edwards (#63) whose Canadian Natural engages in oil sands mining.

Forbes includes only Anatoly Lomakin (#82) among mining-related billionaires while counted five potash potentates - Dmitry Rybolovlev (#17), Alexander Nesis (#35), Anatoly Skurov (#58), Zelimkhan Mutsoev (#68), Filaret Galchev - and Andrei Guriev (#32) who made money in mineral fertilizers.

Inclusion criteria aside, 2011/2012 proved a good year for mining and metals tycoons, many of whom have clawed back losses suffered during the financial crisis or became freshly minted billionaires.

While the Uralkali and Silvinit potash merger made Russia's fertilizer kings even richer, Glencore's IPO last year added billions to CEO Ivan Glasenberg's (#20) fortune and created five others billionaires overnight.

Apart from management Daniel Mate and Aristotelis Mistakidis (joint 40th on our list), Tor Peterson (#47) and Alex Beard (#54) we included private equity player William Macaulay (#85) for good measure. Glencore also helped Bulat Utemuratov (#70) return to the billionaire list after he sold zinc and gold mines to the Swiss resource company.

Others were not so lucky. Lakshmi Mittal (#2) who after losing $10 billion over the past year is down to his last $20 billion and a number of Russians, including Mikhail Prokhorov (#12) and Vladimir Lisin (#8), had their fingers burned badly.

Another sign that mining can bring mega-riches is that notable figures in the industry such as Robert Friedland only manages position #50 despite having $2.3 billion in the bank; controversial diamond miner Lev Leviev sits at #61 with $1.7 billion in the bank and emerging platinum star Patrice Motsepe's $2.7 billion fortune doesn't crack the top 40 in mining.

Similarly, American coal dynasties are among the lower ranks with Christopher Cline at #68, Joseph Craft III (#72) and Jim Justice (#78).

Businessmen from Russia and the former Soviet republics still dominate the list although coal and iron ore in Australia and India, coal in Indonesia and silver and copper in Latin America are proving just as profitable. has put together profiles of the 40 top mining billionaires.


2012 Mining Billionaires:

#1 Eike Batista

Brazil's Eike Fuhrken Batista is the world of mining's top entrepreneur with a net worth of $32.8 billion as at April 15, 2012.

Bloomberg tracks Batisita's wealth on a daily basis and places him at number 10 in the world.

Batista, who owns five public companies, famously said in 2008 - when his fortune was put at $6.6 billion, ranking him at no. 142 on the Forbes list - that his goal was to become the richest man in the world in five years.

Fast forward to 2012 and he's climbed 135 places to become the 7th richest person on the planet, but still a long way away from Mexico's Carlos Slim who has more than twice Batista's money.

Forbes describes him as "bombastic" and in his younger days Batista led the playboy lifestyle marrying Luma de Oliveira, a Brazilian nude model, and becoming a speedboat world champion.

He was born into mining and is the son of a former CEO of Vale, the world's second largest miner and iron ore titan.

Brazil's richest man, he is a college drop out that started as a gold trader at 23 and according to Billionaire Times constructed the Amazon's first mechanized alluvial gold mine.

Batista is quoted as saying that mine was so rich "it was idiot proof because it survived all my mistakes."

Batista became at age 29 CEO of Canada's TVX Gold, a shell company, which he built into a miner worth billions with operations in Latin America and Canada, but he quit in 2001 after two misadventures with gold projects in Greece and Russia.

He then turned to iron ore in his native Brazil where his company EBX is spending upwards of $15 billion on port infrastructure and mines. His 61% stake in EBX constitutes the bulk of his wealth and in 2008 he took $3.4 billion cash home when he sold an iron ore business to Anglo-American.

In February he bought Toronto's Ventana Gold for over a $1 billion to get his hands on a Columbian gold mine, which he has described in similar glowing terms to his Amazon assets.

Bloomberg quotes Richard Warke, the Ventana chairman who made the sale, as saying: "He never lost the gold bug. I found him very knowledgeable about the business, the industry's valuations and he has a very good team. He is just a very tough negotiator."

He is 55 years old and lives in Rio de Janeiro. He has two children Thor and Olin and is divorced from De Oliveira.

His company's newest off-shoot, OGX has already made significant finds in Brazil's booming offshore oil and gas industry meaning Batista may yet put money where his mouth is.


#2 Lakshmi Mittal

Last year was not kind to Lakshmi Mittal and the Indian steel tycoon entered 2012 a full $10 billion poorer.

He is now worth $20.7 billion a according to Forbes calculations making him the 21st richest person in the world and the 2nd richest in India, behind Mukesh Ambani, an oil and gas operator.

In 2008 Mittal stood $45 billion strong, when shares in his firm ArcelorMittal, the world's largest public steelmaker with coking coal and iron ore mines around the globe, were hitting highs.

Mittal,61, lives in London and his mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens was bought in 2004 for over $120 million, at the time the most expensive home in the world. He is married with a son and a daughter who are both active in the company children.

Forbes reports that in 2004, Mittal threw his daughter "what is believed to be the most expensive wedding in history, a $60 million, week-long extravaganza for some 1,000 guests in Paris."


#3 Alisher Usmanov

Forbes reports Alisher Usmanov, 58, this year became the top ranked Russian oligarch and 28th richest person on its billionaire list with a net worth of $18.1 billion.

The Uzbek-born Moscovite has been hard at work diversifying out of iron ore and steel producer Metalloinvest in which he holds the majority interest.

For good reason: only three years ago his stake in Metalloinvest, which he spun out of Gazprom with billionaire buddy Vasiliy Anisimov, was worth a mere $1.6 billion.

Through a share in DST Global (founded by fellow Russian billionaire Yuri Milner), Usmanov holds interests in Facebook - he paid $200 million for 1.96% back in 2009 which will hand him a handsome profit when the social network lists later this year.

He also holds investments in the blogging site Twitter and discount deals firm Groupon apart from media (influential daily and business magazine publisher Kommersant and cellular holdings in Russia.

Like no. 14 on the list Roman Abramovich who owns Chelsea FC, he is heavily invested in English soccer and real estate.

Despite protest from fans, Usmanov has built up a substantial stake in another London club called Arsenal, Chelsea's sworn enemies.

Usmanov also owns Sutton Place, a Tudor manor house dating back to the 1500s, where oil baron Jean Paul Getty spent the last 17 years of his life.


#4 Gina Rinehart

Perth-based Georgina Rinehart's true wealth is hard to guage as the vast majority of it is tied up in a private firm Hancock Prospecting which controls her empire.

Forbes estimates her fortune at $18 billion saying it has doubled in the past year thanks to billions of dollars of investments in her coal and iron ore projects in Australia from India and South Korea respectively.

Rinehart, 58, inherited Hancock Prospecting from her father Lang Hancock who discovered the world's largest iron deposit in the Pilbara region in 1952.

When Rinehart took over 20 years ago the family firm was debt-ridden and struggling and she built it into the world's number one private mining business.

While Rinehart's business success has been mammoth, her private life has not always been a happy one.

She has not remarried after her second husband died in 1990. In January Rinehart handed her daughter Ginia (sic) directorships of three companies, including Hancock Prospecting.

Ginia who is 25 years old is the only one of Rinehart's four children who are not currently suing her in court in a bitter dispute over control of the family fortune.

The shake-up was the biggest in a long time at the Rinehart group of companies and elevates Ginia in place of her siblings - Bianca Rinehart, John Hancock and Hope Welker - to the top ranks in the world of mining.

Some believe the publicity-shy Rinehart is predicted to become the world's richest person as her coal and iron projects start producing by 2014 and earn her annual profits of as much as $10 billion.

In February Rinehart increased her newspaper and television investments in Australia prompting one observer to comment that Big G is "gonna be the whole shooting match".


#5 Iris Fontbona

Iris Fontbonapci is the widow of Andronico Luksic and her wealth stems from the copper giant Antofagasta. According to Forbes she and her family is worth $17.8 billion, number 32 on the 2012 list of billionaires and the richest people in Chile.

In 1980 Luksic, of Croation origin, bought control of the Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway Company, a company incorporated in London, UK in the 19th century.

Over decades Luksic built Antofagasta into one of the biggest (and lowest cost) copper miners in the world starting with Los Pelambres and El Tesoro in Chile, expanding the railway operations and also moving into banking.

Today Antofagasta's flagship is the copper and gold Esperanza mine in Chile and the company has exploration and mining ventures in Europe, Turkey, Australia, Africa and across the Americas and annual revenues of $4.5 billion.

He married his second wife Iris in 1961 and he died in 2005. He had two daughters and a son Jean Paul, who is chairman of Antofagasta, with Iris.

Forbes reports "during a December 2011 telethon, the usually press-averse Fontbona publicly donated $3 million to help Chileans with disabilities."

$3 million translates to around 0.017% of the family's wealth.


#6 Alberto Bailleres Gonzalez

Forbes estimates Alberto Bailleres Gonzalez and his family‘s fortune at $16.5 billion, ranking him as the 38th richest person in the world.

He is Mexico's third richest man behind Carlos Slim ($69 billion strong mobile phone king and richest man in the world) and retail and media mogul Ricardo Salinas Pliego whose pesos stack up to 17.4 billion USD.

Gonzalez's wealth is largely thanks to his 69% shareholding in Industrias Penoles, which controls Fresnillo, the world's largest primary silver mining company and a number of other silver and gold mines in Latin America.

The Gonzales family has added more than $10 billion to their stash since 2009 and it is not likely that they will stop accumulating cash - Penoles this month announced a 63% bump in 2011 profits to $1.5 billion.

Forbes says the 80-year old who sits on a number of boards including a Coca-Cola distributor is a fan of bullfighting.


#7 Rinat Akhmetov

Rinat Akhmetov 39th on the list of the world's billionaires making him the 7th richest miner.

Akhmetov is worth $16 billion and like many of his oligarch pals made his money from the privatization of state assets in the ex-Soviet republics during the 1990s. According to Forbes his company System Capital Management, the largest conglomerate in the ex-Soviet republic, "already controls over 60% of coal production and energy generation in Ukraine." He is the sole owner of the firm.

Akhmetov has been a member of parliament in Ukraine since 2007 for the Party of Regions but not much is known of his private life.

He has invested heavily in the Shakhtar Donetsk (the word Shakhtar means "miner") soccer club in his hometown in the heart of Ukraine's coal region.

He lives in London and in 2010 bought the most expensive penthouse on the planet at One Hyde Park for $220 million and according to one paper is already planning a $100 million renovation for the three-storey pad. Akmetov apparently has Vladimir Kim, owner of Kazakhstan copper producer Kazakhmys, as a neighbour in the building.

He is 45, married and has 2 sons. Ukranian paper Kommersant put his wealth in 2011 at over $25 billion.


#8 Vladimir Lisin

Forbes places Ukranian coal baron Vladimir Lisin as the second wealthiest Russian with $15.9 billion in the bank according to Forbes calculations.

He dropped out of the top 40 richest people this year because falling stock in his Novolipetsk Steel wiped out a whopping $8 billion of his wealth this year.

The steelmaker, which traces its roots to the 1930s is based in Lipetsk south of Moscow and owns Russia's third largest iron ore mine. Privatized in the 1990s, Novolipetsk exports the bulk of its output. Chairman Lisin has also pushed the company into railways and ports.

Lisin is a graduate of the Siberian Metallurgical Institute (1979) and holds doctorates in Metal Engineering and Economics. He is married with 2 children and Forbes reports "he constructed one of Europe's largest shooting-range complexes in Lisya Nora, which is close to Moscow."


#9 Alexei Mordashov

Another man of steel Alexei Mordashov enjoys a net worth of $15.3 billion according to Forbes. That ranks him as the 45th richest person in the world.

As boss of Severstal, Mordashov has expanded the footprint of the steelmaking firm globally with operations across Europe and the US. Severstal Resources also has various greenfield coal and iron project on the go worldwide including Liberia, Brazil and Russia.

It plans to spend $660 on these projects this year, but much of Mordashov's time is going into Nordgold, which he listed separately in London in January. The precious metal miner has a number of projects in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Kazakhstan and Russia and already produces more than 560,000 ounces a year.

Forbes gives his background as "son of mill worker parents he became finance director of a steel mill. When the plant's elderly general director instructed him to buy up company shares so it would not fall into the hands of an outsider, Mordashov bought most of them himself."

Mordashov is 46 years old, divorced, and the father of five.


#10 Vladimir Potanin

In 2012, more than $14 billion still gives you a top 50 spot in Forbes billionaire list and Vladimir Potanin just make it despite being more than $3 billion poorer this year than in 2011.

Potanin now owns 30% of Norilsk Nickel after having lost control of the miner in 2008 when his long-time partner Mikhail Prokhorov sold his stake to Oleg Deripaska (just as well, Deripaska lost more than $8 billion of his wealth because of Norilsk's underperformance).

Norilsk is the foremost producer of nickel and palladium in the world and is also a top miner of platinum and copper and from its Siberian base runs mines in Australia, Botswana, Finland and South Africa.

Potanin also controls Russia's biggest television and newspaper group, ProfMedia, is a big sponsor of the arts and in 1996 at the tender age of 35 had a brief stint as First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.


#11 German Larrea Mota Velasco and family

Mexico is well represented in the $10 billion-plus club and German Larrea Mota Velasco and family is the fourth richest in the Latin American country according to Forbes.

The magazine places the 70-year old head of copper giant Grupo Mexico at number 48 on its list with a net worth of $14.2 billion. The Mexico City-based Velasco family own just over half of the group that dates back to the 1940s as an infrastructure and transport firm.

The copper, molybdenum, zinc, lead and precious metals miner houses most of its resource activities in 80%-owned Southern Copper Corp and Asarco, tow entities it is attempting to merge. The mining arm, responsible for almost 80% of the group's earnings had a break-out 2011 with a 32% jump in sales to a record high $6.8 billion but has also been mired in controversy recently.

In a now infamous case in October a Delaware judge ruled Grupo Mexico must return $1.3 billion to Southern Copper for forcing Asarco to overpay for Minera México.

Forbes also reports GMexico "has had trouble with labor at its Mexican mines; the former Cananea mine, now called Buenavista, near the U.S. border was shut for nearly four years by a strike. Meanwhile, President and Chairman of the Board German Larrea remains elusive, avoiding journalists and photographers."


#12 Mikhail Prokhorov

Apart from being fabulously wealthy - net worth $13.2 billion and 58th richest man in the world - Mikhail Prokhorov, is a lot of things.

At 46 and single he has been called the most eligible bachelor in the world and fits the title plaboy to a t. He even managed to scandalize the French (no mean feat) when in 2007 at the French Alpine resort of Courchevel, he was arrested for allegedly flying in prostitutes for his Russian Christmas party guests. The charges went nowhere and he was eventually exonerated.

He ran against Vladimir Putin in Russia's March presidential election garnering only 8% of the vote and never shaking off the image as not much more than a ‘Kremlin project'. His campaign was slightly unorthodox and featured an appearance on a Russian comedy show where his awkward foot stomping and fist punching (see video below) emboldened him to declare: "I am real Russian Eminem."

He is a 6'8″ martial arts expert and ‘freestyle' jet ski champ and indulged his passion for sports by buying the New Jersey Nets.

Prokhorov is from proud Russian farm stock, made his money during the Yeltzin era snagging a majority stake in Norilsk Nickel during the notorious privatization process of the early 1990s with Vladimir Potanin. The steered the company together for 16 years, but their friendship came to an abrupt end when Prokhorov sold his Norilsk stake to fellow oligarch Oleg Deripeska.

The Moscow Institute of Finance graduate is not always very careful with his money - in 2010 he forfeited a $55 million deposit (plus accumulated interest) on a French Riviera mansion because he did not ask for a refund during the 7-day cooling off period according to French law.

He lost more than that in 2011 and according to Forbes his holdings is now worth $5 billion less than a year ago, but a planned listing of Prokhorov's 38%-owned Polyus Gold in London could change that. Polyus has the world's third largest gold proven and probable reserves, behind Barrick and Newmont, at 90.5 million ounces.

He is very close to his sister Irina with whom he shares a Moscow mansion. Irina runs a literary magazine and after a televised interview during Mikhail's campaign was dubbed ‘Russia's Angela Merkel‘.

Forbes reports Prokhorov "is also publishing a Russian-language magazine, Snob, in the U.S.  Back home, Prokhorov is spending $200 million to help make Russia's first hybrid, the Yo."


#13 Antonio Ermirio de Moraes

Antonio Ermirio de Moraes heads up the Sao Paulo's Votorantim Group, a private family-owned company founded just after the WW1 as a textile factory.

Forbes estimates his net worth at $12.2 billion putting him at 67th in the world and third in Brazil. De Moraes has fathered nine children and is a product of the Colorado School of Mines.

Unlike many family firms, the 83-year old respected chairman of the board, does not appoint relatives to executive positions in the conglomerate's sprawling operations which cover steel, base metals particularly zinc and some gold and silver projects in Peru and nickel in Brazil, agriculture, pulp and paper, banking, energy (it runs 33 hydro-electric plants) and cement.

2010 revenues for the group was $17.6 billion and the company employs close to 100,000 workers.


#14 Roman Abramovich

Abramovich enjoys a high-profile thanks to his ownership of the Chelsea (dubbed ‘Chelski' by opponents) football club in London, but has long lost his status as the richest man in Russia (he was worth $23.5 billion in 2008).

He spends most of his time in London with model girlfriend and contemporary art promoter Dasha Zhukova, and Forbes puts his 2012 fortune at $12.1 billion placing him in position no. 68 in the world.

The 45-year old father of six could afford the $243 million settlement after splitting from his second wife Irina, but now faces a $6.8 billion lawsuit filed in London last year by erstwhile business partner Boris Berezovsky.

Berezovsky, who is in political exile in London, says he was bilked out of billions by Abramovich in a Yeltsin-era oil and gas privatization deal that made both men deca-billionaires.

Abramovich current wealth stems from shareholdings in steel giant Evraz and Highland Gold. Highland owns two mines in Russia and several exploration projects in Russian and Kyrgyzstan and produces more than 180,000 ounces a year. Barrick in February announced it will be selling its 20% stake in Highland.

Forbes reports he "also owns the world's largest yacht, the 533-foot Eclipse, which cost him over $250 million in 2010. He added a 377-foot ice boat, the Luna, to his fleet of pricey toys, which already included two other yachts, a Boeing 767 and homes in London, St. Barts, Colorado, Sardinia and France."


#15 Jindal family

Forbes places the Jindal family at no. 80 in the world with a net worth of $10.9 billion built from steel.

Matriarch Savitri Jindal, 62, lives in Hisar north of Delhi and her son Sajjan, one of nine children, runs JSW Steel from Mumbai, India's financial capital while her youngest son Naveen is responsible for the family conglomerates energy business.

Savitri became the chairperson after her husband and founder of the empire, O.P. Jindal, died in a helicopter crash in 2005.

According to Forbes the Jindal fortune has plummeted almost a fifth as JSW Steel cut back production in Karnataka following a ban on iron ore mining amid corruption scandals that brought down the southern Indian state's rulers.

Forbes reports Jindal Steel & Power's market worth "fell as it got into tangle with the environment ministry. Naveen is a big donor to his alma mater, the University of Texas in Dallas, which has named its management school after him."


#16 Andrey Melnichenko

Andrey Melnichenko - 81st richest person in the world according to Forbes data - is the youngest of the relatively youthful Russia billionaires boys club. In 1993 he co-founded MDM Bank with Sergei Popov and the pair then moved into coal, fertilizer and pipes.

Self-made Melnichenko is now worth $10.8 billion after adding more than $2 billion over the last year. He first appeared on the list in 2004 when he was only 32 years old and if things pan out the way he is planning he may soon move way up the ranks.

Melnichenko last year increased his share of SUEK (Siberian Coal Energy Company), number one Russian coal producer and exporter with 2011 output of 92 million tonnes, to more than 75%. According to Forbes "he's ready to take the coal maker, as well as Eurochem, the country's largest mineral-fertilizer producer, public."

Already a leader in phosphate and nitrogen fertilizer, Eurochem (Melnichenko is said to own more than 90%), is spending $5.3 billion on two new potash mines in Russia that should start producing next year with a capacity of more than 2 million tonnes per annum.

Like his fellow Russians, Melnichenko has a soft spot for mega-yachts, but unlike Abramovich he did not go for the biggest just the most unique. Designed by minimalist Philippe Starck, the 119 m long and 18 m wide yacht believed to have cost over $300 million making it the most expensive ever built. It is named "A" after his wife Aleksandra.


#17 Dmitry Rybolovlev

Dmitry Rybolovlev's windfall came in 2010 according to Forbes when he sold his stake in Uralkali for $6.5 billion. Today he is worth $9 billion placing him 100th in the world and the lucky 13th richest man in Russia.

Another one of Russia's privatization billionaires he first worked for his fathers medical device company in 1990 before setting up an investment firm, Perm, just in time for the great Yeltsin industrial asset sale bonanza.

Rybolovlev, 45, built up a controlling stake in Uralkali over the following years and in 2007 listed the company in London. Last year Uralkali merged with Silvinit and the combined operations' capacity is more than 10 million tonnes per annum, placing it behind Potashcorp of Saskatchewan.

Rybolovlev's ascent top echelons was far from smooth - in 1996 he spent almost a year in Russia's toughest prison awaiting trail after being accused of a plot to kill a business partner.

Forbes reports Rybolovlev "is best known in the U.S. for his real estate moves. He bought Donald Trump's Palm Beach mansion, Maison de L'Amitie, for $95 million in 2008. He paid $88 million for a Manhattan apartment former Citi chairman Sandy Weill listed, buying the pad for his daughter Ekaterina Rybolovleva, 22; the sale set a new record on price paid per sq. foot. He also apparently paid more than $300 million for La Belle Epoque penthouse in Monaco, where he lives."


#18 Oleg Deripaska

Deripaska's net worth is pegged at $8.8 billion by Forbes and the 44-year old comes in at no. 104 on the list of the world's billionaires. Proving what a rich hunting ground Moscow had been over the past two decades he only ranks 14th in Russia.

After making most of his money through aluminum giant Rusal, Deripaska is now the major shareholder in Norilsk Nickel after buying Mikhail Prokhorov's stake after the latter fell out with erstwhile business partner Vladimir Potanin.

The Russian metals world is definitely one of wheels within wheels. Just like the feud between Abramovich and Berezovsky now being played out in London's courts, the bitter rivalry between Deripaska and fellow billionaire Viktor Vekselberg is threatening to become very public.

Vekselberg is threatening to sue Deripaska after quitting as Rusal chairman over Deripeska's ambition to create an integrated metal and mining business by merging Rusal and Norilsk.

Like other Russian billionaires tied to Norilsk, Deripaska has seen his wealth being whittled away by the stumbling metals giant. He was worth as much as $28 billion in 2008.

Forbes reports he "came back from the brink during the financial crisis: facing margin calls and billions of dollars in debt, he personally negotiated with the Russian government, banks and other creditors to restructure loan obligations. Deripaska managed to defend the majority of his assets from creditors, including car maker Gaz, energy sector EuroSibEnergo, and Glavstroy construction projects. The debt of his holding company Basic Element is still huge, about $21 billion."


#19 Iskander Makhmudov

Iskander Makhmudov's wealth comes in at $8.2 billion which today is mainly held in his majority-owned Ural Mining and Metallurgical Co, one of Russia's biggest copper producers with some construction and agriculture businesses thrown into the mix.

The company's roots go back hundreds of years and the original Ural deposit in the late 1800s supplied 25% of the world's copper. It's new flaghsip Safyanovskoye underground mine will go into production next year. Apart from the gamut of copper products UMMC also mines zinc and iron ore and produces steel.

The Bukhara-born Uzbek is fluent in English and Arabian and after leaving Tashkent University where he read Oriental studies, the 48-year old worked for the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Libya, Iraq. He is Russia's 16th wealthiest individual and number 110 in the world according to Forbes' estimates.

Forbes reports his "first moves as a businessman were with the Chernoy brothers, the Reuben brothers and their Trans-World Group, once the largest metals-trading operation in Russia. Last autumn, Spanish authorities named him in a money laundering case, which they handed over to the Russian Attorney General's Office for further investigation."


#20 Ivan Glasenberg

One of three Glencore International billionaires on the list, as CEO Ivan Glasenberg enjoyed a $110 million pay day in March thanks to the commodities giant's maiden full-year dividend payment.

Glencore was founded in 1974 by Marc Rich, a fugitive businessman controversially pardoned by Bill Clinton shortly before leaving office in 2001.

Glasenberg, 55, holds more than a 15% stake worth $6.8 billion in the Swiss-based company that went public in a $37 billion listing in May last year. He has vowed not to sell any of his shares as long as he works there.

Glasenberg, alumna of Wits University in Johannesburg living in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, cut his teeth in his native South Africa's coal industry in the 1980s and is known as a highly competitive dealmaker that regularly works 70-hour weeks.

The obsessively private Glasenberg who once represented South Africa in race-walking is married with two children. He is also an Australian citizen and Forbes puts his net worth at $7.3 billion, placing him behind Australia's Gina Rinehart, number four on the list of mining billionaires.

Glencore is currently locked in merger talks with diversified miner Xstrata, run by fellow South-African born Mick Davis, that would see the emergence of a resource powerhouse with some $200 billion in annual revenues.

Glencore's IPO also made billionaires of Spaniard Daniel Mate ($2.8 billion) and Greek citizen Aristotelis Mistakidis ($2.8 billion). The two, number 40 and 41 of mining's richest, started at Glencore in the early 1990s in in the company's zinc, copper and lead trading department. Alex Beard, director of Glencore's oil business raked in $2.1 billion during the IPO.

Glencore has not only been good to its employees - US investor William Macaulay last year made $1 billion by purchasing convertible bonds in Glencore according to Forbes and Bulat Utemuratov (#71) who sold zinc and gold mining co's to the Swiss firm is once again a billionaire thanks to the IPO.


#21 Nicky Oppenheimer & family

De Beers and the Oppenheimer family, one of mining's most storied relationships, has come to an end after three generations.

In March regulators gave the go-ahead to Nicky Oppenheimer to sell his family's remaining 40% in the empire which for most of its existence prospered by keeping an iron grip on the production and sale of rough diamonds worldwide, to another Oppenheimer firm Anglo-American for $5.1 billion.

Cecil John Rhodes formed De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1888 in South Africa. Rhodes either bought up or squelched competitors but Ernest Oppenheimer who traded diamonds from the famous Cullinan mine north of Johannesburg refused to join the cartel.

Ernest Oppenheimer's Anglo-American, a company co-founded with US financier JP Morgan, eventually bought out De Beers and Ernest Oppenheimer became chairman of the diamond firm in 1927.

The Oppenheimers continued the monopoly business model executed through its Diamond Trading Company throughout the 20th century but in the late 1990s changed tack. It stopped stockpiling rough diamond supply and moved into retail and jewellery manufacturing. The Oppenheimers took the company private in 2001 after a century-long listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Forbes gives the Oppenheimer wealth a number of $6.8 billion, placing the family at number 139 globally and first in South Africa (the magazine considers Glasenberg an Australian).

Nicky Oppenheimer lives in Johannesburg, is married and has one child. He holds a masters from Oxford.


#22 Beny Steinmetz

Forbes calculates Beny Steinmetz‘s fortune at $5.9 billion held in the Geneva-based Steinmetz Diamond Group he inherited from his father and diversified into a mining, oil and real estate company.

While his real estate investments have hit a rough patch Steinmetz's mining deals through BSGR have paid off handsomely.

Iron ore giant Vale bought the company's Simandou operations in Guinea two years ago for $2.5 billion, making Steinmetz a considerable profit. He is also preparing to float Octea, a Sierra Leone diamond miner on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The family company is De Beers biggest customer for rough diamonds.

Aged 55, Beny and his wife Agnes have four children and live in Israel. The Steinmetz family is the world's #169th wealthiest.


#23 Andrew Forrest

Outspoken Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has amassed a net worth of $5.8 billion through Fortescue Metals.

He grew up on a farm in Pilbara, Australia's iron ore heartland, and after working as a stock broker he founded Anaconda Nickel. But it was the iron ore boom that supplied his fortune.

Fortescue, which Forrest took control of in 2003, only shipped its first ore in 2008 and has since grown to over $5 billion in revenues, rivaling the majors in exports to China.

In 2009 Australian securities regulators found that Forrest deceived shareholders when he said that he has binding export contracts with the Chinese. He is still fighting the charges but nevertheless stepped down as CEO of Fortescue in June last year to become chairman.

Forbes describes Twiggy's rise this way: "Descendant of a pioneering Australian family of explorers and farmers, he has challenged, and beaten, some of the world's biggest mining companies, building his own railway and port systems when they refused to carry his ore."

He is also a vociferous opponent of Australia's mining taxes and a tireless promoter of aboriginal rights.

Forrest lives in Perth, Australia. He is 50 years old and married with three children.


#24 Sergei Popov

Sergei Popov in 1993 co-founded MDM Bank with Andrey Melnichenko and the pair then moved into coal, fertilizer and pipes.

At $5.7 billion Popov's net worth has rapidly fallen behind that of Melnichenko as the two continue to split their businesses, a process they started in 2006. Melnichenko is worth $10.8 billion after adding more than $2 billion over the last year while Popov's wealth reduced by $2.2 billion.

Popov is concentrating on banking while Melnichenko is focusing on their resource businesses including SUEK (Siberian Coal Energy Company), number one Russian coal producer and exporter and Eurochem, the country's largest mineral-fertilizer producer.

Popov, who is only 40, is married and has one child. He is the world's #178th richest person, but doesn't even make the top 20 in his native Russia.


#25 Viktor Rashnikov

Viktor Rashnikov is a product of Magnitogorsk's Mining and Metallurgical Institute, graduating in 1974, and he still resides in the city 1,800 kilometres east of Moscow near the Kazakh border.

He started at Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel mill (MMK) as a machine minder but by the late 1990s had come to own the bulk of the steelmaker by buying up workers' and the state's shares (allegedly at vastly undervalued prices).

At the start of the previous decade he successfully fought a boardroom revolt, takeover attempts by fellow Russian metals man Iskander Makhmudov and a loan from European Bank of Reconstruction and Development that went sour.

He is certainly tenacious - Forbes reports "when he faced problems with iron ore supply, he bought the shares (with partners) of one of the biggest iron ore deposits in Russia. In 2007, Rashnikov took MMK public on the London Stock Exchange and pocketed around $1 billion; however the vast majority of his wealth remains tied up in the stock."

After a very bad year during which he lost almost half his fortune Rashnikov is worth $5.6 billion. He is married with two children and is said to be an avid hockey fan.


#26 Alexander Abramov

The most of Alexander Abramov‘s money is held in Evraz Plc, which he and number 14 on the list Roman Abramovich and co-founder Alexander Frolov listed London in November last year.

Despite Evraz's successful public offer, one of many Russian firms heading to the UK, Abramov has not had a good year and is worth $5.4 billion, down from $7.5 billion last year and a high of $11.5 billion in 2008.

Forbes describes his rise this way: "In 1992, he established a precursor to Evraz Holding and made a fortune exporting metals and coal from the Urals and Siberia. After the 1998 Russian financial crisis, Abramov bought up hobbled steel companies and coal mines on the cheap."

Evraz today operates four iron ore and two coal mines in Russia and Ukraine, including Russia's largest met coal producer Yuzhkuzbassugol and has extensive vanadium plants and mines in South Africa and the US. .

The 53-year old lives in Moscow, the city with the most billionaires worldwide, and is married with three children. Abramov wasn't always a businessman; he started work at a Soviet defence and space research lab after graduating from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.


#27 Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani‘s net worth is pegged at $5.4 billion by Forbes.

Adani, who has become a huge investor in Australia's mining infrastructure and ports, was implicated in the scandals in Karnataka over illegal mining. Mining has been banned in India's iron ore rich state and Adani has subsequently lost out on port tenders. The company is also involved in power generation, solar energy and real estate.

He is India's 11th richest person, but his level of wealth has fluctuated dramatically. In 2008 he was worth more than $9 billion, only to see it drop to less than $2 billion during the financial crisis. Adani built it back up to $10 billion in 2010 only to see it almost halve again this year.

He is 49 years old, married with two children and lives in his home town of Ahmedabad. He was born into a merchant family and started his path to riches as a young man sorting and trading diamonds in Mumbai after dropping out of college.


#28 Dennis Washington

77-year old Dennis Washington'swealth - "built up the old fashioned way" says Forbes - stands at $5 billion even.

Forbes reports "the child of divorced parents, he had a tough start, "I went to seven grade schools. I was a god damn cripple," he says, referring to his childhood bout with polio, from which he fully recovered. He eventually settled down in Montana with his grandparents. After working for his uncle's construction company he went out on his own and got a $30,000 loan from a local Caterpillar dealer to start his own highway construction firm."

The construction business was successful and Washington quickly diversified into mining. What really gave the Washington Co. momentum was a copper and molybdenum mine in Butte, Montana, which he acquired in 1986 and shortly thereafter re-opened.

In contrast to the wild swings in many other billionaires' fortunes Washington net worth has been steadily climbing since 2007 and even the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent barely registered on his income statement.

Born in Spokane, Washington, he lives in Missoula, Montana and is married with two children. A keen yacht-builder and sailor Washington owns an island off the British Columbia coast. Washington's $5 billion does not buy him a top 200 spot globally, but he is 64th in the US.


#29 Andrei Skoch

Andrei Skoch is Russia's richest member of parliament (he has been in the Duma since 1999) and is one of three Metalloinvest billionaires.

Skoch owns 30%, number three on the mining billionaire list. Alisher Usmanov holds 50% while Vasily Anisimov holds 20% of the steel and iron ore giant.

Skoch worked for Usmanov at Lebedinsky Mining while his childhood friend and fellow billionaire Lev Kvetnoi worked for Oskol Metal. Usmanov merged the two businesses to form Metalloinvest as a division of oil and gas giant Gazprom which was subsequently spun off.

Forbes reports Skoch's stake is "technically owned in the name of his father Vladimir, a former factory worker." Kvetnoi has sold out of Metalloinvest to go into banking and airports.

Metalloinvest announced had revenue of $7.2 billion in 2010 and claims the world's richest iron ore deposits outside Australia. It is also developing copper mines and raised $3.1 billion in February for expansion.

Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.2 billion which places him 28th in Russia. He is only 46 year old and was barely in his 40s when he amassed his first billion. A resident of Moscow he is married with 7 children and a graduate of Moscow's Institute of Physical Culture and Sports (like Kvetnoi). He sponsors an annual literary prize called Debut.


#30 Low Tuck Kwong * [See editorial note below]

Low Tuck Kwong, worth $3.6 billion, is the wealthiest of Indonesia's coal barons, but the Asian countries vast deposits have made billionaires of a few.

Fellow Indonesians Kiki Barki is worth $1.7 billion, Edwin Soeryadjaya $1.4 billion, Garibaldi Thohir $1.2 billion placing the latter at #84 on mining's rich list, and Theodore Rachmat, #86 with $1.1 billion.

His Bayan Resources, listed in Indonesia in 2008 into the teeth of the global financial crisis, but has since then more than tripled.

The company has its roots in construction in the early 1970s and only ventured into contract coal mining in 1988. Thanks to aggressive growth it now dominates coal infrastructure, exports and mining in Indonesia centred in Kalimantan, the world's second largest producer, and recently ventured into Australia.

Born in Singapore Low Tuck Kwong is 63 and is married with 2 children. He is outside the top 300 list of the world's billionaires but hits number three in his Indonesia.

Forbes reports "he also has stakes in Singapore-listed Manhattan Resources and Singapore HealthPartners, which plans to open an integrated hospital, medical center and hotel there in 2013. Animal lover has a zoo in Borneo with dozens of animals including gibbons, sun bears, peacocks; rehabilitates orangutans for reintroduction into the wild."

Low Tuck Kwong is 63 and is married with 2 children. He is outside the top 300 list of the world's billionaires but hits number three in Indonesia.


#31 Anil Agarwal

Anil Agarwal‘s fortunes declined over the past year thanks to a 40% slump in the share price of his London-listed Vedanta Resources. Agarwal is now worth $3.5 billion, almost half his net worth a year ago.

Agarwal started out as a scrap metal trader and Vedanta boast $11.4 billion in annual revenues and is two-thirds through a $19 billion capex plan. In 2004 Vedanta bought Konkola Copper in Zambia and three years late control of Sesa Goa, India's foremost iron ore miner.

The aluminum producer and diversified miner has operations India, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Liberia, Ireland and Australia. It is the world's number on lead-zinc producer and also mines silver, copper and iron ore.

Forbes reports the "Indian government stopped [the] company from mining bauxite in eastern India following protests over its mining practices." Agarwal has now successfully expanded into oil after buying a stake in India's largest onshore oilfield which his brother Navin is running.

Forbes also reports "his much-touted Vedanta University, to which he pledged $1 billion, is stalled owing to problems related to land acquisition." Agarwal is 58 and lives London. He is married and the father of two kids.


#32 Andrei Guriev

Andrei Guriev made $3.5 billion from fertilizer through his 70%-ownership of Fosagro the globe's number two phosphorous fertilizer producer.

Guriev, who is also a Russian senator representing Murmansk, could have been higher on the list, but plans to merge Fosagro with Silvnit, the Russian potash giant fell through.

Silvnit last year merged with Uralkali to create the world's second largest potash miner, adding billions to the fortunes of Dmitry Rybolovlev, Alexander Nesis, Anatoly Skurov, Zelimkhan Mutsoev and Anatoly Lomakin.

Forbes reports "Guriev, a former Moscow communist committee leader, became an avid capitalist in the 1990s working with Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Menatep Group.He eventually chaired its subsidiary Apatit. During the prosecution of former billionaire Khodorkovsky, who has been in jail for years, Guriev led a management buyout of Apatit and acquired control."

Guriev is 52, lives in Moscow and is married with two children.


#33 Vladimir Kim

Vladimir Kim - net worth $3.5 billion - is chairman of copper miner Kazakhmys and has seen shares in the London-listed company slide 32% over the past year.

Kim made headlines in October 2010 when in one go, he sold $1.3 billion worth of stock to Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund. When he became involved with Kazakhmys (then called ZhezkazganTsvetMet) during the 1990s the Soviet era miner was in complete disarray and debt laden.

Today it produces 90% of Kazakhstan's copper and in 2010 mined 33 million tonnes of the red metal, significant quantities of zinc, 13 million ounces of silver and some gold. Revenues last year came to $3.6 billion and profits a healthy $1.2 billion. Kazakhmys also listed in Hong Kong last year.

Kim, 51, is of Korean descent and was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He graduated from the city's Architectural Institute in 1982 and is married with three children. He is number 314 on the Forbes list of billionaires and Kazakhstan's richest man.


#34 Vasily Anisimov

Another one of Russia's Metalloinvest billionaires, Anisimov has a net worth of $3.4 billion as estimated by Forbes placing him at 330 in the world and number 30 in Russia.

Anisimov sold off of his share of Metalloinvest after being sued by fellow billionaire Boris Berezovsky (now exiled in London after falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin) for $600 million.

Forbes reports the trial continues and in 2000, Anisimov mysteriously "sold all his holdings in Russia and laid low for four years. In 2004, he made a comeback as co-owner of Metalloinvest with fellow billionaires Alisher Usmanov and Andrei Skoch."

While Anisimov, 60, keeps a low profile and unlike his fellow Russian billionaires prefers New York over London when not in Moscow, his daughter Anna is a well known Manhattan socialite and property owner.

She is an ex-model and has been dubbed Russia's answer to Paris Hilton. Tragically in 2000 Anisimov's only child from a previous marriage and her husband were murdered in Russia.


#35 Alexander Nesis

Nesis is worth $3.1 billion and like his billionaire Russian buddies Suleiman Kerimov, Filaret Galchev, Alexander Nesis and Zelimkhan Mutsoev and Anatoly Skurov, owes his wealth to potash and specifically the blockbuster merger of Uralkali and Silvinit last year that created a true rival to Canada's Potashcorp.

Forbes reports "Nesis started out in the 1990s reinvesting profits from Central Asian uranium mining into other metals and shipbuilding. He created miner Polymetal, then sold the company to Kerimov in 2005. Three years later, Nesis bought back a stake at a rock-bottom price in the heat of the financial crisis; Nesis now owns 19%."


#36 Igor Zyuzin

At $3.1 billion Zyuzin‘s fortune does not even grant him a spot among Russia's top 30 billionaires. His Mechel Group is the country's largest producer of coking coal and Zyuzin is readying the group's mining division for a separate listing.

Zyuzin and fellow billionaire Vladimir Iorich, now a German citizen, struck out together in 1995 and in 2001 "the partners bought a controlling stake in Chelyabinsk Metals Factory, which formed the basis of the Mechel Group, now consisting of more than 20 plants and coals mines around the world." The company listed in New York in 2004 and has also been buying up US coal mines. The 51-year old is married with two children.


#37 Patokh Chodiev, #38 Alijan Ibragimov, #39 Alexander Machkevich

The threesome is worth a combined $8.4 billion split equally thanks to Kazakh's vast copper and gold resources.

Chodiev built Eurasian Natural Resources with longtime pals Machkevich and Ibragimov and continues to expand the business. The company bought First Quantum Minerals' assets in the Democratric Republic of Congo for $1.25 billion in March after the Canadian copper company got caught up in a dispute with the Central African country's state-owned mining company.

While Chodiev,59, runs his empire from Almaty, Kazakhstan, he was born in Uzbekistan, spent a lot of time in Japan and is a Belgian citizen. Ibragimov, 58, is a native of Kyrgyzstan and according to Forbes is a devout Muslim with 6 sons. Machkevich, 58, is an Israeli citizen and Forbes says apart from helping to run the minerals company he's focusing on launching a Jewish version of Al-Jazeera, the Arab and English news channel.


#40 Daniel Mate and #41 Aristotelis Mistakidis

Forbes pegs the two Glencore employees wealth at $2.8 billion each, meaning across industries the pair don't break into the 400 richest in the world club. Mate, 48, is a Spaniard and joined the Swiss-based trading and commodities behemoth in 1988 when controversial founder and fugitive pardoned by US president Bill Clinton before leaving office, Marc Rich, was still at the helm.

Mate and Mistakidis, a Greek citizen and the country's wealthiest individual, who joined the company shortly before the management buyout and name-change, are co-directors of the zinc, copper and lead divisions of Glencore. The company dominates the production and trade of the metals worldwide.

* Editorial note: may have confused Bayan Rsources with Bumi Resources plc. Both companies have huge coal reserves in Kalimantan. In a recent announcement, Bayan said it aimed at producing 25 million tonnes of the black stuff by 2013.

However, Bumi - already the world's biggest single exporter of thermal coal - plans to deliver four times as much as this within the next two years, primarily from its KPC subdiairy in Kalimantan.

London-listed Bumi Resources plc owns just under 30% of the Indonesian conglomerate.



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