Mar 07, 2016

Palmer back at refinery helm

Palmer back at refinery helm

Clive Palmer has announced that the Yabulu refinery will remain open under a new joint venture manager, Queensland Nickel Sales, which he will head.

“The funding facility will be secured against assets outside of Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd which were not available to the voluntary administrators in the discharge of their duties as manager of the Yabulu refinery,” Mr Palmer said.

Queensland Nickel Sales would replace Queensland Nickel as the manager of the operations at Yabulu and associated Townsville Port facilities with immediate effect, he said.

Mr Palmer said Queensland Nickel Sales would offer all current employees of Queensland Nickel employment on the same terms and conditions as they were currently engaged.

“I have been working diligently for weeks to find a solution to secure the long-term operations of the Yabulu refinery and its workforce in the best interests of the Townsville economy,” Mr Palmer said.

“I have been harshly vilified with false allegations in respect of this matter. The Queensland government and the Treasurer Curtis Pitt have done nothing to protect the livelihoods of the people of North Queensland.”

Queensland Nickel went into voluntary administration in January after sacking 237 workers on the back of continued low nickel prices.

Mr Palmer told the ABC on Monday he would use $23 million of his own cash to back the replacement management company for the refinery.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt has called on Mr Palmer to detail the effects on workers and creditors of his new corporate arrangements for managing and operating the Yabulu nickel refinery.

“Administrators of Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd, FTI Consulting, have stated that the new arrangements put in place were outside the control of FTI,” Mr Pitt said.

“Mr Palmer needs to explain clearly what this new arrangement means for the existing entitlements of the refinery’s current employees, and what guarantees he can give them about their future employment security and their existing entitlements.

“The employees need clarity.

“Mr Palmer also needs to explain what impact the new arrangements may have on existing creditors including the 237 workers who have already been made redundant.”

The restructure needed to transparent to all concerned and to the wider North Queensland community, he said.

The State Government had been considering a request from the administrators for a $10 million loan guarantee.

But Mr Pitt said FTI had advised the Treasurer’s office that it would no longer seek a loan facility from the State Government.