© The Australian
Gina Rinehart
You probably haven't heard of Gina Rinehart - the 57-year-old Australian widow - but you'll know the people her wealth is set to eclipse.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Carlos Sim are currently rated as the richest people alive by Forbes magazine, while Lakshmi Mittal is the UK's richest person and sixth-richest overall.

But Rinehart is about to leapfrog them all to the top of the list - and become the first woman to ever hold the number one spot.

Where her money's come from

Rinehart was a recently widowed mother of four in her 30s when she inherited her father's debt-laden mining firm. But she wasn't new to the business world.

She had been groomed to inherit the family firm from the age of 12 and, since taking over, has quietly gone about making it one of the world's biggest operations.

In the last year alone her fortune has more than doubled to £6 billion - making her the richest person in Australia. But that is just the start.

An investigation by US banking giant Citigroup into her new mining operations showed her wealth is only just beginning to blossom, and could increase tenfold in the next few years.

"If Rinehart was a company listed on the ASX [Australia Stock Exchange] and valued using the same 11-times price-to-earnings ratio as her partner, Rio Tinto, she would be worth $30 billion (£19 billion), putting her in the top 10 of the Forbes rich list," calculated Australian business site SmartCompany.

"Rinehart, however, has three more mines on the way, and potentially more in the exploration phase.

"If Rinehart's three new projects ... match the performance of Hope Downs, and if mineral prices stay high (two big assumptions) it is possible to see Rinehart's portfolio of coal and iron ore production spinning off annual profits approaching $10 billion.

"If those best guesses prove to be correct, Rinehart is heading for a personal net worth valuation of more than $100 billion (£63 billion)."