Clive Palmer had a win this morning in his continuing battle against the Sino Iron Ore operation that is bankrolling his bid to gain political power in tomorrow’s Federal election.

Justice Katrina Banks-Smith approved the bid by his company Mineralogy to move an action against it by CITIC Pacific, the Chinese owner of Sino Iron Ore, to the WA Supreme Court.

Justice Banks-Smith said while Mineralogy may have exaggerated the overlap of the various legal actions in the “history of contested litigation” between the two parties she had come to the view that there was sufficient commonality between proceedings that they could be potentially disrupted if heard in different court systems.

She said the disputes called for a relatively high level of case management by the courts that would be more cohesive if the CITIC action was transferred to the Supreme Court.

In October, CITIC sued Mineralogy and Mr Palmer for what it claimed was unconscionable conduct hindering progress on its $US10 billion ($14.5 billion) Sino Iron project in a move that could make Mr Palmer partly liable for billions of dollars of claims.

At the time Mr Palmer said CITIC’s lawyers were “forum shopping” by using the Federal court system instead of the WA Supreme Court where in late 2017 Mineralogy won $US150 ($217 million) million in royalty back payments and a continuing flow of payments that could be worth more than $1 million a day.

Mr Palmer responded in November with a bid to move the action to the Supreme Court.

CITIC’s action was part of a tit-for-tat round of court actions between CITIC and Mr Palmer’s Mineralogy, which owns the magnetite iron ore tenements that the Sino Iron project is mining.

Since 2016 the Chinese miner has been lobbying to expand its waste rock and tailings storage areas but has claimed it is being stymied by Mr Palmer and Mineralogy.

CITIC has spent huge sums shoring up its existing tailings area but has said new facilities, detailed in a mine continuation plan document, are needed now the mine is in full production.

CITIC’s action sought orders from the court for Mineralogy to submit the plan and make changes to leases as well as an award of damages against Mineralogy and Mr Palmer.

The West Australian reported this week that it is understood Premier Mark McGowan is looking to insert a new clause in the 2008 State Agreement with Mineralogy that would allow CITIC to expand its operations without needing the agreement of the Queensland businessman.

 

Image: Clive Palmer, The West Australian.