Leaders sceptical Clive Palmer’s nickel refinery will open

CLIVE Palmer's claim that the Queensland Nickel refinery will reopen in 2020 has been met with scepticism from Townsville civic leaders.

Mr Palmer today announced his company had allocated $400 million to reopen the Yabulu facility as early as next year.

This is not the first time Mr Palmer has said the refinery is set to open, making a similar announcement in June 2018 that the facility would be open before Christmas this year.

Townsville civic leaders, including Mayor Jenny Hill, Herbert MP Phillip Thompson, Townsville Enterprise and Senator Nita Green said they'd need to see it to believe it.

"We've heard a number of times the company claim that it's going to restart this facility," Cr Hill said.

"We will always welcome jobs in the community but I'm sure the community's heard this over and over again.

"What I want to see is real action, when we see action that's when the community will be convinced that the refinery will be reopened."

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Businessman Clive Palmer talks to reporters as he arrives at the Supreme Court in Brisbane, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Liquidators are trying to claw back $200 million in claims owed by Mr Palmer over the collapse of Queensland Nickel. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING
Businessman Clive Palmer talks to reporters as he arrives at the Supreme Court in Brisbane, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Liquidators are trying to claw back $200 million in claims owed by Mr Palmer over the collapse of Queensland Nickel. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

 

Mr Palmer again called on the State Government to assist Queensland Nickel access to its berth at the Port of Townsville.

"We need to do a lot of heavy lifting to get the refinery reopened and we anticipate, subject to the State Government's assistance with the port issue, that we will have it opened by late 2020 early 2021,'' he said.

But a Port of Townsville spokeswoman said it had "always made it clear" that it would welcome nickel ore imports starting up again and that Queensland Nickel's issue wasn't with them but with Glencore.

"QN previously accessed the berth for its imports under a commercial contract with Glencore," she said.

"It is understood QN is in discussions with Glencore in this regard.

"We provided Queensland Nickel with new port lease agreements for their stockpile areas in September last year and look forward to receiving confirmation from Queensland Nickel that they can proceed to restart imports."

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said Queenslanders could see through Mr Palmer's "excuses" and had be let down "again and again".

"Clive Palmer should report on progress with his berth two negotiations with Glencore instead of his usual shenanigans of blaming the government."

 

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey. (AAP Image/Richard Walker)
Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey. (AAP Image/Richard Walker)

 

North Queensland senator Nita Green. Picture: PETER CARRUTHERS
North Queensland senator Nita Green. Picture: PETER CARRUTHERS

 

Cairns-based Labor senator Nita Green said she was waiting to see the outcome of ASIC's ongoing investigation into the collapse of Queensland Nickel and other ongoing court cases involving Mr Palmer.

"While all new jobs are welcomed in Townsville, history tells us to believe it when we see it when it comes to Clive Palmer's ventures," she said.

"Townsville workers do not deserve to have their hopes dashed again."

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said his office had contacted Mr Palmer last September to discuss next steps but never heard back.

A total of 237 Queensland Nickel workers were made redundant just three days before the company went into receivership in 2016, which led to a further 500 other workers being laid off.