Reports that ANZ has given a US$1bn bridging facility to the giant Roy Hill iron ore project in Australia have been denied by sources at the bank.

It was widely reported in the Australian and trade media that the bank had opened the facility with mining tycoon Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting ahead of an expected project finance transaction later this year.

The alleged move was described as being “risky” and “aggressive” by sources in Australia given that any collateral would’ve been only partially built. It was speculated that the bridge would mean Rinehart wouldn’t have to pay for initial construction out of her own pocket.

However, a senior source at the Australian bank has told GTR that the bridge loan never took place, offering only confusion in response to the media reports. “We’ve just not provided one. That’s why there’s such sensitivity about it because of the inaccuracy.”

Hancock Prospecting is backed by equity partners, who are thought to have been upset at the media coverage regarding the debt financing. Speaking of the alleged bridge loan, Roy Hill spokesman Darryl Hockey said Hancock’s equity partners “continued to provide sufficient funds to allow us to progress the project”.

Our source confirms, though, that the bank expects to be involved in the project financing package to be agreed this year. It has been reported that the company will be hoping to take on A$4bn from export credit agencies, with a similar figure to be loaned from the commercial sector, which would make Roy Hill the biggest mining project financing deal in history.

The finance will cover the mine, as well as rail and port connections and Hancock Prospecting has set a deadline of the end of 2013. The company began developing the Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia in 2011.

Rinehart is the richest person in Australia and the fourth richest woman on the planet with an estimated fortune of A$22bn She has proven to be a controversial figure in Australia, given her strong opposition to the minimum wage and carbon taxes.