An Australian court has ruled on when royalties payable by Citic Pacific to Australian tycoon Clive Palmer are due, settling one of four legal disputes facing the US$6.8 billion magnetite iron ore project under construction in the nation's west.
In the course of a lawsuit, Palmer dropped his demand that a mining agreement signed between Citic and his firm, Mineralogy, in 2006 be terminated, eliminating the risk that Citic would be kicked out of the operation.
Citic said in March it had spent more than US$9 billion to build infrastructure for the much-delayed project.
The dispute stems from the 2006 agreement in which Citic agreed to make a quarterly royalty payment to Mineralogy of A$0.30 (HK$2.27) per tonne of ore "taken".
The Supreme Court of Western Australia on Tuesday ruled in favour of Palmer and his interpretation that royalties became due once raw ore was stockpiled, Reuters reported. Citic wanted to pay once the ore was delivered to the crusher. The ruling means Citic must pay A$400,000 to Mineralogy.
A person close to Citic said Mineralogy had backed down from a position it had held during the proceedings - that royalties were payable on all mined earth, including waste. The firm had agreed that royalties would be payable on stockpiled ore only, the person said.
A Mineralogy spokesman declined to comment on the claim. Citic said in a statement it would study the judgment, adding that the decision would have no impact on the development of the project.
One of the three other legal disputes between the firms involves a claim for royalties by Minerology of A$200 million. Another relates to access to a port and the third to a mining rights lease agreement.