Clive Palmer says he will reopen the nickel refinery in Townsville but is awaiting access to the Port. (ABC News: Sally Rafferty)
Controversial Queensland businessman Clive Palmer says the board of QNI Resources has voted to reopen the beleaguered Yabulu nickel refinery near Townsville, but he needs the Federal and State Government’s help.
Queensland Nickel went into administration two years ago, but Mr Palmer, who is chairman of related company QNI Resources, today said he intended to take over the refinery.
But Mr Palmer said the project could not get off the ground because they were still waiting on access to the Port of Townsville, and he called on the State and Federal Governments to intervene.
“Already 560 families in Townsville have registered for employment at the refinery,” Mr Palmer said.
“If we could just get back on to the Port, we’d be able to employ 100 people tomorrow to start the work of getting our wharf and train-loading equipment ready for the first shipment of nickel ore.
“If that happened quickly, we’d need a further 100 employees before Christmas, and we’d expect to be at full employment levels of around 750 within 12 months.
“It’s time for the Premier to put the public’s money where her mouth is … this is an asset owned by the people of Queensland, and it should be used to benefit the people of Queensland.
“And if the State Government won’t act, I call on the Turnbull Government to use federal powers to secure fair and equitable access to the berth so Yabulu can reopen.”
In an open letter to Queenslanders, Mr Palmer said the Government had stopped his companies from accessing and using $250 million in equipment at the Townsville Port.
“The Government and the Port Authority refuse to allow my companies to import nickel ore for processing at the refinery,” he said.
“Stop the Labor Government destroying your family’s standard of living.
“Demand that we be allowed to utilise the port to import ore … contact your federal and state Labor members and the Mayor of Townsville to demand that they take immediate action.”
Global nickel prices have soared in the last year, from around $12,000 per tonne 12 months ago to $20,000 per tonne.
When Queensland Nickel collapsed in 2016, it left debts of $300 million owing to creditors and put more than 800 people out of work.