Tuesday 24th Oct, 2017

Palmer’s royalties dispute back in court

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Businessman and former politician Clive Palmer’s claim for hundreds of millions of dollars in iron ore royalties from estranged Chinese business partner Citic has finally gone to trial this week.

Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Martin will hear the case, starting on Wednesday, in Perth, between Palmer and Citic, over royalties from the Sino Iron project in the Pilbara.

Citic is reportedly supposed to pay Palmer a royalty, called Royalty B, for every tonne of iron ore sold through Sino, based on the annual benchmark iron ore price agreed between Australian and Brazilian miners and Asian steelmakers.

But the benchmark model has been replaced, since 2010, by a more volatile set of spot prices. The Palmer/Citic dispute rises from how to adjust to this change.

Justice Martin was the man who last year told Citic to make $21.4 million in interim Royalty B payments to Palmer – a decision which was later overturned on appeal.

That series of events was just part of the ongoing dispute between Citic and Palmer, former business partners who are now said to be bitterly divided, whose legal battles began four years ago.

And this week’s case is one of many on Palmer’s plate.

The former mining magnate, who lost much of his fortune financing his political career during the collapse of the mining market, was in court recently over the way his Queensland Nickel business shut down throughout 2016.

He has also reportedly filed lawsuits against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and employment minister Michaelia Cash over their comments around the collapse of the nickel business, which he believes were defamatory.

Queensland Nickel went into administration with around $300 million in unpaid debts.