Mineralogy Drops Bid to Liquidate Citic Pacific Unit

Mineralogy Pty, the Australian mining company owned by politician Clive Palmer, dropped its bid to push a Citic Pacific Ltd. (267) unit into bankruptcy as the two companies continue a dispute over royalties from the world’s biggest magnetite iron ore project.

Citic Pacific and Mineralogy both confirmed in e-mails today that the Feb. 7 lawsuit to liquidate Sino Iron Pty for nonpayment of debt won’t go ahead. The withdrawal follows a judge’s questioning of the validity of the suit over the unpaid debt.

“That’s not a basis for winding a company up,” Justice John Gilmour said at a Feb. 13 hearing in Perth, according to a transcript from the court. “That just means you could sue in the appropriate jurisdiction for recovery of that sum.”

Sino Iron, the Citic Pacific unit, spent $8 billion, more than four times the initial estimate, building the project in Western Australia on Palmer’s land. The partnership fractured as Palmer and Citic Pacific began a legal dispute over the payment and calculation of royalties. That case continues.

Sino Iron was more than three months behind in payments, Mineralogy said in seeking to wind up the company.

“There has been no notice of demand -- no statutory demand,” Gilmour said. The fact a debt remains unpaid “isn’t proof that Sino is unable to pay its debts,” the judge said.

Mineralogy also agreed not to terminate any of the key agreements it has with Sino Iron, which were associated with the lawsuit and agreed to pay Sino Iron’s legal costs, Citic Pacific said today in a statement.

“We welcome Mineralogy’s change in position,” Citic Pacific said.

Mineralogy failed in October in a bid to kick Sino Iron off the property over a failure to pay A$287,000 ($259,000) in royalties.

The case is between Mineralogy Pty and Sino Iron Pty. WAD27/2014. Federal Court of Australia (Perth).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Sydney at jschneider5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Hobbs at ahobbs4@bloomberg.net

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