CITIC Pacific and Clive Palmer's Mineralogy will be back in court today for another round of wrangling in their increasingly bitter dispute, with the Chinese iron ore miner asking the Federal Court to throw out Mineralogy's attempt to wind up its major Australian operating subsidiary.
Mr Palmer last week lodged a wind-up notice against Sino Iron, which runs CITIC's Pilbara magnetite project. Mr Palmer alleges CITIC has failed to pay a $12 million invoice for "normal administrative costs" associated with Mineralogy's standing as CITIC's landlord at Sino Iron. He suggested on Friday its Australian subsidiaries may have lost the support of their Chinese parent company.
It is understood an increasingly frustrated CITIC will seek to have that application thrown out as an abuse of process, arguing its local arm retains the support of its $5 billion Hong Kong-listed parent and a genuine dispute exists as to whether the money is owed to Mineralogy.
A CITIC spokesman said it had applied to have the court dismiss Mineralogy's wind-up attempt.
"We expect Mineralogy's latest legal adventure will be dealt with appropriately by the court," he said. The spokesman also confirmed CITIC would press on with attempts to replace Mineralogy as security controller at the project's Cape Preston port.
The latest development came as Mr Palmer made a provocative appearance yesterday at the National Press Club, accusing CITIC of using the media in its fight over royalty payments.
In response to a question from China's state-owned Xinhua news agency about what other Chinese companies observing the bitter battle would make of the legal spat, Mr Palmer said: "I think it's good that Chinese companies are focusing on this case because unlike CITIC we haven't fought it in the media so much."