Queensland Nickel

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Queensland Nickel
Private
IndustryRefinery
FateAwaiting approval for reopening
FoundedJuly, 1971
Headquarters
Townsville
,
Australia
ProductsNickel
OwnerClive Palmer (as a joint venture between QNI Resources Pty Ltd and QNI Metals Pty Ltd)

Queensland Nickel is a company owned by businessman and former politician Clive Palmer. Queensland Nickel owns and operates the Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery at Yabulu in North Queensland. The refinery was established in July, 1971[1] and Palmer acquired the refinery in 2009[2] from British-Australian company BHP Billiton. On 19 January 2016 the company entered into voluntary administration.[3] In April, 2016 the company's creditors voted for liquidation.

Operations[edit]

The refinery carries out two operations: ore processing and refining. By design, the front-end of the refinery is where the ore is processed whereas the back-end is where it is refined and prepared for sale to the international market. The ore used in these two operations is received via rail from a facility at the Port of Townsville.[4]

When operating at full capacity, the Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery is responsible for over $1 billion of output in the North Queensland economy and is the largest employer helping to generate over 3000 direct and indirect jobs in Queensland.[5]

History[edit]

The company was established in July 1971.[1]

The Yabulu Nickel Refinery was completed in 1974, after geologists commenced exploration of the Greenvale deposit, an area originally mapped by officers of the Bureau of Mineral Resources in 1957.[6]

In 1986, the first test shipments of Nickel ore from Indonesia and New Caledonia were processed at the refinery with regular shipments starting in 1988 and 1989. It was in 1989 that the refinery's internationally patented ammoniac AL solvent extraction technology was introduced to the refining process to significantly improve the separation of nickel and cobalt.[6]

Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, asked Clive Palmer to purchase the refinery and save jobs in North Queensland. Palmer acquired the refinery in 2009 from British-Australian company BHP Billiton.[2] As part of the purchase, Clive Palmer had to personally guarantee over $3 billion of personal funds to ensure workers' jobs were safe.[citation needed] The impact on the local economy was immense as the refinery's operations were responsible for 1970 full-time equivalent jobs in North Queensland, $150 million in income and salaries in addition to $1.1 billion in output for the local economy.[5]

When the operation was first acquired by Palmer in 2009, the cost of production was over $8 per pound. During the course of the next five years, the manager and director Clive Mensink (Palmer's nephew) was responsible for the reduction in the cost of production to $4.40 per pound.[7] The reduction in production costs ensured that the QN Group of companies was still able to continue operations and employ people, despite the falling price of nickel on the world market.[citation needed]

Environmental issues[edit]

A freedom of information request by the Northern Queensland Conservation Council in 2014 showed that Queensland Nickel discharged nitrate-laden water into the Great Barrier Reef in 2009 and 2011—releasing 516 tonnes (508 long tons; 569 short tons) of toxic waste water on the latter occasion. In June 2012, Queensland Nickel stated it intended to release waste water, continuously for three months, "at least 100 times the allowed maximum level as well as heavy metals and other contaminants". A Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) briefing stated the company had "threatened a compensation claim of $6.4bn should the GBRMPA intend to exert authority over the company's operations". In response to the publicisation of the dumping incidents, the GBRMPA stated:

We have strongly encouraged the company to investigate options that do not entail releasing the material to the environment and to develop a management plan to eliminate this potential hazard; however, GBRMPA does not have legislative control over how the Yabulu tailings dam is managed.[8]

Financial troubles[edit]

Despite having previously ruled-out requesting government funding,[9] Palmer requested taxpayer-funded assistance from the Queensland Government in late 2015 to guarantee a loan of A$35 million for the redundancies.[10][11] However the government rejected the request, citing the refusal of the company to share full details with the government and its large donations to Palmer's Palmer United Party.[12] Despite its financial troubles, Queensland Nickel donated more than $20 million to the Palmer United Party in two years[13] including a donation of $288,516 days before the workers were terminated.[citation needed] On 15 January 2016 the company Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd terminated 237 workers. The company blamed poor nickel prices, which were at a twelve-year low[14] and the refusal of the Queensland Government to support industry and jobs in North Queensland.[15]

In March 2016 it was proposed by Palmer to transfer the employment of hundreds of employees, including their entitlements, to a new company Queensland Nickel Sales, a joint venture between two of Clive Palmer's companies, QNI Resources Pty Ltd and QNI Metals Pty Ltd, with Mensink as director. The plan was that the new company would continue to operate the refinery and would pay the outstanding expenses incurred duringthe administration, but required the administrator to agree transfer the cash held in the Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd bank account.[16] In a sworn affidavit, Kelly-Anne Trenfield explained why the administrators would not agree to this transfer of cash.[17] After the report by the administrators on Clive Palmer and Queensland Nickel on 11 April 2016,[18] politicians and media from around the country criticised Palmer. In early April 2016 the administrators, FTI Consulting, found that the company had "incurred debts of $771 million after going insolvent in November".[19] On 22 April 2016 the company's creditors voted to liquidate it.[20]

On April 2018 Palmer claimed the attacks were politically motivated and launched a counter claim and is suing the liquidators for $1.8 billion in damages.[21]

Future[edit]

On 29 June 2018, Palmer held a press conference in Townsville to address the claims against him and announced his intention to re-open the refinery and create hundreds of jobs.[7] Due to high cobalt prices in 2018,[22] there is also an estimated $6 billion worth of cobalt in the tailings dams onsite at the refinery operations in Yabulu.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Search Company and Other Registers: QUEENSLAND NICKEL PTY. LTD. ACN 009 842 068". connectonline.asic.gov.au. Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Queensland Nickel - Our History". Qni.com.au. Archived from the original on September 3, 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel goes into voluntary administration". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 19 January 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Queensland Nickel". Queensland Nickel Leaks. 2018-06-07. Archived from the original on 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  5. ^ a b AEC Group. "Economic Impacts of the Closure of the Yabula Nickel Refinery" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-03-17. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Our History » QUEENSLAND NICKEL". www.qni.com.au. Archived from the original on 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  7. ^ a b United Australia Party (2018-06-29), Clive Palmer & Queensland Nickel Press Conference, retrieved 2018-07-13
  8. ^ Milman, Oliver (12 February 2014). "Clive Palmer's nickel refinery pumped toxic waste into Great Barrier Reef park". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-02-23. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Clive Palmer I Don't Need State Government Money for My Nickel". Courier-Mail. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  10. ^ Bavas, Josh; Tapim, Francis (18 January 2016). "Palmer under pressure to pay back millions to struggling refinery". ABC News. Australia. Archived from the original on 2016-01-17. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  11. ^ Robertson, Joshua (29 December 2015). "Queensland government cool on Clive Palmer's plea to rescue nickel refinery | Australia news". The Guardian. Australia. Archived from the original on 2015-12-28. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  12. ^ Robertson, Joshua (15 January 2016). "Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel refinery to cut hundreds of jobs | Australia news". The Guardian. Australia. Archived from the original on 2016-01-17. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  13. ^ Hurst, Daniel (17 January 2016). "Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel defends donation to PUP before job cuts". The Guardian. Australia. Archived from the original on 2016-01-18. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  14. ^ Cauchi, Stephen Cauchi (25 November 2015). "Nickel prices fall to 12-year low, Western Areas share price falls". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 2016-01-24. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  15. ^ Bavas, Josh; Tapim, Francis (18 January 2016). "Palmer under pressure to pay back millions to struggling refinery". ABC News. Australia. Archived from the original on 2016-01-17. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  16. ^ Killoran, Matthew; McKenna, Kate; Marszalek, Jessica (11 March 2016). "Confusion reigns as 550 of Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel workers face axe". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  17. ^ Trenfield, Kelly-Anne (20 January 2017). "Affidavit". Supreme Court of Queensland. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  18. ^ Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd (Administrators Appointed) (11 April 2016). "Report by Administrators" (PDF). Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  19. ^ Bavas, Josh (22 April 2016). "Queensland Nickel creditors meet for liquidation vote". ABC News. Australia. Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Creditors vote to liquidate Queensland Nickel". ABC News. Australia. 22 April 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  21. ^ Crockford, Toby (2018-04-12). "Clive Palmer sues Queensland Nickel liquidators for $1.8 billion in damages". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  22. ^ "5 Year Cobalt Prices and Price Charts". InfoMine. Archived from the original on 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  23. ^ Creagh, Ben (7 June 2018). "Clive Palmer targets $6bn of cobalt from Queensland tailings". Australian Mining. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2018.

External links[edit]