Trad demands answers from Palmer over nickel refinery

DEPUTY Premier Jackie Trad has asked billionaire Clive Palmer for a "please explain" on what he is doing to follow through on a commitment to reopen the shuttered Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville.

Mr Palmer has made several promises to reopen the Yabulu refinery after it went into liquidation in 2016, though the date has been pushed back a few times.


Clive Palmer. (AAP Image/Josh Woning)
Clive Palmer. (AAP Image/Josh Woning)

The most recent was in September last year, when Mr Palmer declared he had set aside $400 million through his company Mineralogy Pty Ltd and aimed to have the refinery up and running by late 2020 or early 2021.

"As you would be aware, the Queensland Nickel refinery contributed to a key industry in Townsville," Mr Trad wrote in a letter sent to Mr Palmer last week.

"The collapse of Queensland Nickel and the sacking of 237 workers in 2016 has left an enduring scar on the Townsville community and the local economy."

Mr Palmer, through a spokesman, confirmed the money had been allocated and said about 70 employees worked at the refinery currently.

But for the refinery to be operational Mr Palmer would need to be granted access to the Port of Townsville under the "same terms and conditions prior to 2016", the spokesman said.

"The Labor State Government and the Townsville Port Authority can make this happen. They haven't assisted with the lease because they continue to play politics with the people of Townsville," he said.

The Port of Townsville has repeatedly stated in the past it was open to discussions with Mr Palmer about access, but his company had refused to accept new lease agreements in line with current requirements.