A FIERCE disagreement over the meaning of the word "taken" has pit mining billionaire Clive Palmer against a giant Chinese iron company that is yet to pay Mr Palmer royalties.
CITIC Pacific is developing the Sino Iron project on Palmer-held resources in Western Australia.
Mr Palmer believes CITIC should already be paying him royalties, distilling the case down to a clause in the right-to-mine agreement.
He said the deal stated that a royalty must be paid when the ore is taken.
"We say the word 'taken' means when you mine it," Mr Palmer said.
"They say it means when it is exported."
CITIC say Mr Palmer is mistaken, although they have moved quickly to file an injunction in the Supreme Court of Western Australia to stop the magnate's Mineralogy company from trying to cancel CITIC's agreements.
According to CITIC spokesman, Mr Palmer appears to want royalties paid while the mine was still under construction.
However, the magnate's wait for royalties should be over soon anyway with CITIC announcing it would begin shipping its iron ore concentrate early next year.
"Mineralogy claims that it should have been paid royalty during the development phase of the project," the spokesman said.
"CITIC Pacific considers that its obligation is to pay Mineralogy royalty when production begins, which it has announced."
In a press release, CITIC stated it would continue a dialogue with Mr Palmer's Mineralogy but "has taken and will take, all necessary actions to protect its investment including the filing of injunctions against Mineralogy".
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.