Palmer digs in over Pilbara port, land dispute

Clive Palmer is on another collision course with the State Government, with arbitration likely to begin next month over a dispute involving land at the Pilbara's Cape Preston port.

Eighteen months after the State Government moved to resume land held by Mr Palmer's Mineralogy at Cape Preston, under the terms of a 2008 revision to the company's State Agreement, Mineralogy is still to sign over the land, with a dispute over a road likely to send the disagreement to arbitration next month.

The land will be handed to the Dampier Port Authority as part of a plan for Kerry Stokes' Iron Ore Holdings to build a multi-user port at Cape Preston.

Iron Ore Holdings needs the port for exports from its $800 million Buckland iron ore project and it would also be open for use by other West Pilbara iron ore hopefuls.

Mineralogy agreed to hand back the ground as part of changes to its State Agreement made in 2008 that removed the mining magnate's obligation to open up the $3 billion Cape Preston port, now used exclusively by China's CITIC Pacific, to the Pilbara's junior miners.

The changes also exempted Mineralogy and CITIC from a requirement to build a value-adding pelletisation plant attached to the $10 billion Sino Iron magnetite project.

The Department of State Development would not comment on the dispute. Mr Palmer told _The West Australian _ that Mineralogy believed the agreement did not require it to give up a road within the area that led to the CITIC-built Cape Preston port.

He said Mineralogy believed handing over the road could force it to build a new one on its own tenements at a cost of about $40 million.

"We don't think we're supposed to give up the road," he said. "They want to include the road, so we said, 'We'll resolve it in a friendly manner and we'll have a little arbitration together'."

It is understood the Government's position is the affected road will be included in the land handed to the Dampier Port and would remain open to CITIC as well as juniors wanting access to the proposed Cape Preston East development.

Mr Palmer said the State Government had only issued formal surrender documents in the past month, and the dispute had "no catastrophic consequences" for either Mineralogy or the State Government.

Iron Ore Holdings is involved in a separate dispute with Mineralogy over access to Mr Palmer's tenements for a private haul road south-west of the port. Mr Palmer is also involved in arbitration with the Department of State Development over its refusal to consider a nearby development proposal for his majority-owned Australasian Resources.

The West Australian

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