Federal MP and mining magnate Clive Palmer has launched a scathing attack on Chinese state-owned company CITIC Pacific saying he won’t stand by while Australian resources are being “raped and disrespected by foreign-owned” entities.
The outburst came after Palmer won the latest round in a long-running legal battle with CITIC Pacific for control of the Cape Preston Port, as the battle of wills over who takes the blame for the constant series of delays at the joint Sino Iron venture.
On Thursday the Federal Court of Australia ruled Palmer’s company Mineralogy was the legal operator of the Cape Preston port in Western Australia.
Speaking at the Melbourne Mining Club on Thursday, CITIC chairman Chang Zhenming accused Palmer of talking “rubbish” and warned the heightened tensions will scare off other Chinese investors.
CITIC was attempting to overturn a decision made by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport in January last year which put Mineralogy in control of maritime security at the port.
The companies are currently engaged in a number of agreements relating to project development at the port and the Sino Iron magnetite mine in the Pilbara
But the relationship has been souring for some time.
It began with a spate of delays and cost blow outs, which Zhenming initially blamed on Australian inexperience.
The relationship between Palmer’s Mineralogy and CITIC Pacific took another turn over the issue of mining royalties.
This series of events prompted Palmer to try and pull out of the agreement, in which he owned the land and gave CITIC Pacific mining right, until Mineralogy was awarded royalties.
However this was vetoed by the WA Supreme Court.
The issue of royalties again reared its head mid-last year, after Palmer claimed the Chinese miner was finally paying him royalties, to the tune of $500 million.
“We have a standard right-to-mine agreement,” Palmer said at the time.
“In the agreement it says they pay a royalty when ore is taken. We would say that word ‘taken’ means when you mine it — they would say it means when you take it from Australia.”
Now the focus of this ongoing battle between the two companies has turned to the control of Cape Preston and control of the rights to the land.
Palmer hit back at Zhenming’s most recent statements that Sino Iron and Citic Pacific paid $400 million for the rights to iron ore deposits saying the claims are misleading.
Instead Palmer accused the companies of attempting to take Australian resources without paying the full consideration, adding CITIC had forked out closer to $200 million for the magnetite resource.
“The proposition is CITIC wants to come here and suggest the main consideration can’t be calculated, yet they still want to take our resources back to China without paying for them,” Mineralogy said in a statement.
“In our opinion this is tantamount to stealing, and most Australians would be in agreement.”
Commenting on the Federal ruling that CITIC Pacific and Sino haven’t paid full consideration in accordance with its contact, Palmer said the companies “seem to think they can take our resources without paying for them”.
“Mineralogy stood as the last sentry at the gate protecting freedom of exploitation in Australia,” Palmer said.
He explained that regardless of the cost to Mineralogy and his personal reputation he will stand firm against the Chinese companies.
“I will not stand by and see Australian interests raped and disrespected by foreign-owned companies,” he said.
“I predict this will be the first of many judgments to come our way in the next 12 months.
“Foreign-owned businesses operating in Australia must comply with and respect Australian law.”
The relationship between the companies has continued to unravel.