Queensland

Clive Palmer pledges $250 million backing for Queensland Nickel refinery

Clive Palmer has promised to pour $250 million into his struggling nickel refinery and called on the Queensland and federal governments to follow suit.

Queensland Nickel's refinery in Townsville.
Queensland Nickel's refinery in Townsville. Photo: Glenn Hunt

The businessman turned politician denied putting business interests ahead of Queensland Nickel's (QNI) 237 recently jobless workers and said there was a "nine out of 10" chance its Yabulu refinery in Townsville would remain open.

Mr Palmer told ABC News companies he owned had pledged $250 million in assets to support the refinery's ongoing operations and be used as security if workers' entitlements weren't recovered.

Clive Palmer.
Clive Palmer. Photo: Daniel Munoz

"I'd just like to challenge the premier and the prime minister to match me, dollar for dollar, to support Queensland Nickel," he said.

"I've put $250 million forward, will the Queensland premier do that? I don't think so. She's all talk and no action, and so is Malcolm Turnbull."

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Mr Palmer said the money came from "proven" coal assets and a plan would be unveiled at next week's creditors' meeting in Townsville.

Two of the mining magnate's companies lodged claims to become secured creditors of QNI the day before mass sacking at the refinery on Thursday, according to The Australian.

But he rejected claims he was trying to jump the queue, telling the ABC the move was needed make assets available to keep QNI operating .

"If there's a deed of arrangement, certainly the workers should come first, then other creditors, then myself and any other companies I'm associated with can come last, I'm quite happy about that," he said.

"There's been no suggestion that we've done anything wrong or breached any law, it's just a question of politics."

Queensland Nickel called in the administrators on Monday after laying off 237 workers on Friday.

QNI managing director Clive Mensink, Mr Palmer's nephew, said at the time he thought the company would be able to trade out of voluntary administration, a sentiment the Member for Fairfax reiterated on Friday.

"I think you'll see it come out of administration stronger, leaner, fitter, ready to go on," Mr Palmer told the ABC.

"We're battling on and we're going to win."

Both men blamed the plummeting nickel price and the Queensland government's refusal to act as a guarantor for a $35 million loan for the company's struggles.

On Friday, the government stood by that decision despite an expected mid-year turnaround in the nickel market.

State Development and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the government simply couldn't, when Mr Palmer's company had refused to open up its books for proper scrutiny.

"We weren't prepared to take that risk," he told ABC radio on Friday.

He said the government was within its rights to reject Mr Palmer's bid for help and he wasn't being critical, but added: "Would a step of going guarantor to that loan have been so significant a risk to keep 237 people in a job? It's a third of the workforce that's gone - that's a big call to see that happen.

QNI donated more than $20 million to the Palmer United Party, including  $288,516 declared on New Year's Eve.

- With AAP

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