EDITOR: | September 5th, 2013 | 35 Comments

Wind power is a waste of time… and more words of wisdom from the miner’s daughter

| September 05, 2013 | 35 Comments
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gina-rinehart

A sight to behold: Georgina “Gina” Hope Rinehart, the world’s richest woman.

Gina Rinehart is Australia’s richest – and most controversial – billionaire. The mining magnate became the richest woman in Australia in 2010, the richest person in Australia in 2011, and the richest woman in the world in 2012 (ahead of Walmart widow Christy Walton), with an estimated net worth of nearly $30 billion.

The 59-year-old heiress of Hancock Prospecting (daughter of mining magnate Lang Hancock) has seen her inherited fortune swell thanks to high iron ore prices, rising exports to China and a deal signed early last year that will see South Korean steel giant Posco take a 15% stake in her yet-to-be-developed Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia. In 2011, Citigroup projected that Rinehart is on course to overtake Carlos Slim, the Mexican magnate worth $69 billion, primarily because she owns her companies outright and does not have any shareholders. The widowed mother of four has invested in various media companies in what many Australians regard as Rinehart’s next step in advancing her agenda against Australia’s mining tax.

For someone who is supposedly sophisticated, attempting to manage (control) the public’s perception of her, Rinehart is doing, what the highbrow crowd may describe as, a piss-poor job. She is perceived by many to be a joke. Rinehart has effectively demonstrated repeatedly that she is completely out of touch with reality (figuratively speaking) and seemingly clueless (as any person who was born in the extreme wealth would be expected to be) in her ability to relate to the common man and woman.

Just over a year ago, while she was lobbying to reduce the minimum wage in Australia, Rinehart lashed out at her detractors with the following ignorant and offensive remark: “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working.” Spoken like a true aristocrat… or someone who has been so blessed, she has not had to confront to realities of contemporary adult life or sought gainful employment.

Rinehart also sparked controversy (again) last year when she compared wages in Australia’s mining industry to cheap labor in Africa, where workers earn less than $2 a day. Even Australia’s Prime Minister had to weigh in on that obscene comment. Rinehart has called for fewer regulation and taxes (“less red and green tape,” as she puts it) to prevent losing mining investment from international firms in favor of cheaper operating costs in Africa. And while that last comment may be true or at least fair game, one cannot overlook the conflation – in Rinehart’s political arguments – of what she insists is the national interest in her own commercial investments. Beneath that patent cynicism, cunning, self-promotion and attempted manipulation, is an element of honesty. Rinehart honestly believes that she and her fellow billionaires know best.

It should come as little surprise that Gina Rinehart made headlines again. This time it’s about wind power – and her calls for action against it (she also thinks Australia should address its debt by having non-violent prisoners pay money in lieu of going to prison and for governments to sell their art and decor). In a recent article in Australian Resources and Investment magazine, Rinehart has urged Australians to “speak out” against wind power. Like a hard-hitting journalist, she used a conversation she had with a Dutch cab driver (she takes cabs?) to begin her argument about concerns around the use of renewable energy.

“He (the cab driver) advised that most people now don’t like higher taxes due to building such new power, and especially don’t like the increased power costs out of their own pockets, and also the consequences to industry, with industries closing down in Holland and moving elsewhere,” said Rinehart. “He said people in Holland now wished they hadn’t incurred these cleaner power burdens. Shouldn’t we be speaking out and letting our politicians know?”

Obviously, a cab driver’s opinion is as valid as anyone else’s… but one of the world’s richest industrialists should be able to make an effective and compelling argument for a supposed legitimate issue, without the need of a chauffeur to help make it for her.

Ty Facts on the Pros and Cons of Wind Power:

— Advantages of Wind Power —

  • Wind is free and an abundant source of renewable energy.
  • Wind energy is the cleanest form of renewable energy and is currently used in many leading and developing nations to fulfill their demand for electricity.
  • Modern technology can effectively capture wind and there are significant technological advancements are being made and existing turbines are generally upgradable.
  • Although wind turbines can be very tall (I pass a ginormous one every day on way into work in Toronto) each takes up only a small plot of land. This means that the land below can still be used. This is especially the case in agricultural areas as farming can still continue.
  • Many people find wind farms an interesting feature of the landscape.
  • Remote areas that are not connected to the electricity power grid can use wind turbines to produce their own supply.
  • Wind turbines have a role to play in both the developed and third world (the industry also creates jobs).
  • Wind energy reduces fossil fuel consumption and results in less air and water pollution.
  • Wind turbines are available in a wide range of sizes (which means a vast range of people and businesses can utilize them). Single households to small towns and villages can make good use of range of wind turbines available today.
  • Wind turbines – on occasion – kill geese.

— Disadvantages of Wind Power —

  • The strength of the wind is not constant and it varies from zero to storm force.
  • Wind can never be predicted. This means that wind turbines do not produce the same amount of electricity all the time. There will be times when they produce no electricity at all.
  • Many people feel that the countryside should be left untouched, without these large structures being built. The landscape should left in its natural form for everyone to enjoy.
  • Wind turbines are noisy. Each one can generate the same level of noise as a family car travelling at 70 mph. This reason alone is why wind farms are not built near residential areas.
  • Visual impact. Many people see large wind turbines as unsightly structures and not pleasant or interesting to look at. They disfigure the countryside and are generally ugly.
  • Wind turbines are suited to particular regions, mainly coastal regions which receive wind throughout the year. Some countries may not be able to take advantage of wind power (absence of hilly or coastal areas).
  • When wind turbines are being manufactured some pollution is produced (it’s minimal); therefore, wind power does produce some pollution.
  • Large wind farms are needed to provide entire communities with enough electricity. For example, the largest single turbine available today can only provide enough electricity for 475 homes, when running at full capacity. How many would be needed for a town of 500,000+ people? It should be noted that this wind power technology is, relatively speaking, still in its infancy.
  • Wind turbines are not suitable for some locations.
  • Wind turbines – on occasion – kill geese.

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Comments

  • Veritas Bob

    The best way to wealth is to be born into it. The next best way is to marry into it. So choose your parents wisely, and barring that, marry “wisely”.

    September 5, 2013 - 5:23 PM

    • Tracy Weslosky

      she’s single VB…;-)

      September 5, 2013 - 5:43 PM

      • David Mortimer

        I’d consider it , I presume she has a very big house with plenty of space !

        September 5, 2013 - 7:21 PM

      • Veritas Bob

        Could you introduce me?

        September 5, 2013 - 8:33 PM

  • tek

    Bellybuttons and opinions, everybody’s got one.

    September 5, 2013 - 5:39 PM

  • Ty Dinwoodie

    If I may, I would like to take this opportunity to make a marriage proposal to Ms. Rinehart.

    September 5, 2013 - 5:47 PM

    • David Mortimer

      I don’t know I might check out “the Walmart widow” Christy Walton first !

      September 5, 2013 - 7:25 PM

      • Ty Dinwoodie

        Maybe Alice Walton (I believe she made most of her fortune saving money by shopping at Walmart… or she was left a little something from her father) and, perhaps, Liliane Bettencourt (the queen of L’Oréal will be 91 soon). Both are very generous philanthropists.

        September 8, 2013 - 9:17 PM

  • Sue Glover

    Great article on wind power and fabulous fodder on Rinehart! Favourite piece to date.

    September 5, 2013 - 8:50 PM

    • Dawn

      Some are blessed with wealth, some earn it, some inherit, someone might even get lucky to win the darn lotto, but it will always be taxed no matter what you earn. If you think God intended for you to be taxed til death, than someone is lying to you! Ummm, that would be a politician!

      October 1, 2013 - 7:39 AM

  • Jim S.

    Feel sorry for her publicist! Really enjoyable article Ty and you may want to rethink that offer.

    September 5, 2013 - 8:52 PM

    • Ty Dinwoodie

      No way! The offer stands.

      September 5, 2013 - 9:50 PM

  • David

    I do not agree with Ms Rinehart’s wind-power perspective.

    I am not an aristocrat and my current financial situation is the exact opposite (even extremity-wise) of Ms Rinehart’s. But I do agree with her.
    “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working.”

    For that matter, I have taken the smoking part in good faith.

    Maybe she should have added.
    “And if you want to make better of your life situation, bless those who have far much more than you currently do. Resenting them or making fun of them, does not take you any further from where you are. And of course, it is your right, to remain exactly where you are and even do nothing about it but complain and make jokes of others.”

    September 6, 2013 - 4:22 AM

    • Tracy Weslosky

      Gina Rinehart is a fabulous and literal rock-star in our industry, but few know of her. This said, it would be nice if she took a page from Buffet or Gates and agreed to the coalition of wealthy world players committed to changing the world — whether its malnutrition, or fighting illness; there is indeed more to life than money.

      September 6, 2013 - 12:47 PM

      • David Mortimer

        Here , here !

        September 8, 2013 - 7:46 PM

      • Tim Ainsworth

        Excellent thought Tracy, very difficult to understand Gina’s objectives in life and where her loyalties lie, she could indeed learn a hell of a lot from Gates.
        We have a term, the “Ugly Australian”, unfortunately Gina fleshes it out rather too well.

        PS. apologies Jan, no reflection, lol.

        September 9, 2013 - 1:46 AM

  • Jan Johnson

    Careful Ty, that’s MY family you’re talking about! (True, mum was a Hancock; her dad and Lang were 1st cousins.)
    I never knew Lang or Gina.
    He was equally mad but self made starting with nothing as an orphan. He ran a cattle station in the Pilbara, West Australia. There the land can sustain about 1 cow per square kilometer. Flying to an outstation one day he wondered why all the hills were rust coloured. Discovered it was because they WERE rust and the world’s greatest iron ore region was born.
    Lang’s greatest visions usually involved borrowing redundant US nukes and putting them to good use.
    My favourite is a plan to nuke a channel from the Gulf of Carpenteria- the bite out of the top of Australia- to the inland desert’s Lake Eyre (usually dry and below sea level). Turn the desert green.
    We don’t exchange Xmas cards. I am considering making contact with 1 or 2 of her children: I believe mum’s their closest living relative on the Hancock (Australian) side.

    September 6, 2013 - 10:32 AM

    • Ty Dinwoodie

      Whoa! That’s amazing… and ironic. What an interesting story. Please let us know if you decide to initiate contact!

      I understand Lang was quite a character and an amazing bushman (and self-made businessman) and that, near the end of his life, he was not at all a fan of his daughter Gina. Did your mother get to spend time with Lang growing up?

      September 8, 2013 - 9:29 PM

      • Jan Johnson

        Lang (as I recall the story) grew up for a while with my grandad. His mum died and his dad remarried. Then dad died and he stayed with my great grandparents for a time: grandad was there too, a young man. Then -hard times- he was sent to an orphanage as the family couldn’t cope.
        In later life grandad didn’t make contact maintaining that Lang was fine now and didn’t need the Hancocks, who hadn’t done the right thing by him.
        Mum never knew him.
        Some other history that I think is interesting: what formed the Pilbara?
        Round 3 or 4 billion years ago photosynthesis developed. For the first time our planet had free oxygen in the atmosphere and oceans.
        There were massive global changes. In particular, the iron salts in the oceans precipitated as oxides (rust) over time. The Pilbara is simply an on-land remnant of this massive global phenomenon.

        September 9, 2013 - 12:38 PM

        • Ty Dinwoodie

          That’s a great story (except for the unfortunate childhood/orphanage part)… I hope you do decide to reach out.

          And that’s fascinating about the formation of the Pilbara. Didn’t Lang discover it while flying in a dangerous downpour, and because it was storming he was able to see the orange in the hills? And that’s what led him to conclude there was iron in the ground – or something to that effect?

          September 9, 2013 - 1:08 PM

  • GoBucks

    Wind turbines occasionally kill geese—and a lot of other flying critters.

    In California they are routinely responsible for the deaths of bald eagles and condors–protected species–and the wind energy people get a pass. The average joe can go to jail if he is caught carrying a FEATHER from one of those dead birds. Something wrong with this picture, no?

    Mr. Dinwoodie did not mention the taxpayer subsidies needed to keep them turning–something like 2 cents per kwh. Why do we need to subsidize this? Can’t they sell their product at a profit and thus not burden us?

    Also–there are currently something like 14,000 busted-down wind turbines in the USA. Why? because the owners don’t make enough ,money to maintain and repair them? Need higher subsidies, I guess.

    Not.

    I’ve seen the wind farms of western Washington. They take up a lot of land–it isn’t trivial.

    However, I did find his article to be most entertaining all the same.

    September 6, 2013 - 12:55 PM

    • Tracy Weslosky

      GoBucks – I have a collection of photos from world travels while hosting “DealFlow” and it never ceased to amaze me how many of the wind turbines were not working. This said, I do believe in renewable energy and technology evolution is most assuredly the answer…ps. the use of wind turbines under the ocean is quite fascinating to me

      September 6, 2013 - 1:07 PM

  • GoBucks

    Hi Tracy,

    I’m not convinced. The world of dollars and cents will be the jury on the future of alternatives.

    Alternatives are fine if they are a benefit to us, rather than a burden.
    I, for one, am sick of green technologies being pushed for their own sake.

    They need to stop telling me they are saving the world. Had enough of it. No more hysteria!!

    Fortunately, the tide is turning on this bogus climate change stuff. I would not be at all surprised to learn that politicians and corporate execs who are pushing that stuff are quietly looking for places to hide. Taxpayers are tired of being robbed to pay for boondoggles.

    And alternative energy technologies, no matter how ingenious, no matter how many fascinating rare earth elements they use, are going to have to pay their way. Because I ain’t doin’ it!!

    September 6, 2013 - 2:10 PM

  • Eric M. Klier

    I don’t know any more about this woman that what I have read in this article, but I must say I completely agree with everything I read that she has said. I’m really mystified by the reaction of what I assume are individuals with real world business experience. I completely disagree with the author’s numerous derogatory characterizations of Ms. Rinehart. Mr. Dinwoodie is clearly penning this from a certain political and ideological perspective, and chooses to degrade those with whom he does not agree, perhaps not even realizing he is doing so. There are in fact many people who agree with Ms. Rinehart, perhaps not a majority, but since when does majority opinion dictate scientific and economic reality. When a society decides to force a population to fund an inferior technology (insufficient energy density, if it is so great, let it compete in the market place) in the name of protecting the environment from a supposed but unproven (scientific “consensus” does not cut it) manmade event, that society eventually makes it uneconomical to recover its own natural resources and ultimately looses the entire associated value chain. This is the decline of that society’s standard of living, which we see all around us in the US today. Ironically, the very critical materials needed to enable this “wonderful” wind power will not be able to be obtained thanks to this faulty ideology. However, I suppose we could all just go on blaming others that we don’t make enough money or deny that we are competing with the rest of the world. Do something for malnutrition…fighting illness…I guess the thousands of people she directly employs and countless indirect jobs and economic activity she creates does not “contribute” to society…not to mention the massive personal and business taxes that are most likely confiscated from her…in the name of society…and to support all that “wonderful” wind power.

    September 6, 2013 - 7:22 PM

  • tamra sweder

    I like the comment I read on the investorintel.com facebook page about this article:”Australia, much like the rest of the world needs more sustainable and cleaner energy solutions such as wind power and less of the hot-aired heavings of a bloated, spoiled gasbag that “Thanks, Daddy”-ed her way to where she is.” – I don’t think I could have said it better. 🙂

    September 7, 2013 - 2:42 AM

  • Mike Nicholas

    I found myself very intrigued by some of the views expressed and agree that there needs to be a balance between the new realities of the changing environment and the need for business to adapt its processes and methods to continue sustainable growth. But there are still great disconnects between theory and reality such as those found in solar power benefits (dubious), electric cars (cost of generating the electricity required for the batteries), hydrogen fuel cells (efficiency again and distribution system of same)… provocative and lively discussion here too – keep up the good work!

    September 8, 2013 - 2:47 PM

    • Ty Dinwoodie

      Hi Mike, thank you for your comment. Sounds like you have a lot of opinions regarding what we write about on InvestorIntel and I encourage you to voice them here. We welcome and advocate differing viewpoints… we want to know what you really think and why. So please feel free to elaborate! Thanks again.

      September 9, 2013 - 11:31 AM

  • John Clarke

    Gina (I think it would be pronounced “gyna” to rhyme with Ozzie miner). An interesting person, but only because she talks and acts like a sociopath … I am all for her controlling her own media as then we would know how to avoid her delusional megalomania! Just think if she and Murdoch got together and had offspring what could happen? http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/harrymount/100070608/chris-huhne-is-suffering-from-pathological-narcissism-disorder/
    goodeye moit

    September 9, 2013 - 11:20 AM

    • Jan Johnson

      No, doesn’t rhyme with anything anatomical.
      Rather it’s the unit of heredity: gene-ah.

      September 9, 2013 - 12:44 PM

  • dennisT

    Entertaining reading folks ! I have previously worked for Danish wind producer VESTAS, Lynas Corp and also in the Pilbara for FMG next door to Roy Hill and regardless of who says what and what-not try going without electricity for a week (regardless of the source). Solar, wind, nuclear and coal all make the world we currently know work and go around – cleaner or greener will always be a matter of opinion.

    Enjoy your day.

    September 12, 2013 - 9:01 PM

  • Dawn

    There are givers and takers all around the world that are rich and/or poor. Amazing how few there are in the middle of the aristocrats and the desolate. There should not be distribution of wealth, but there should be minimum wages that are set high enough to support one’s self based on the cost of living. Just how much money can one rich person spend in there lifetime anyway? Life is worth living when giving another person a chance at living if they are willing to work for it!

    October 1, 2013 - 7:52 AM

    • Ty Dinwoodie

      Well said, Dawn.

      Perhaps you should consider running for political office!

      October 1, 2013 - 9:26 AM

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