Mining entrepreneur turned politician Clive Palmer says he’s saved the Yabulu refinery from bankruptcy, injecting $23m in cash to keep the Townsville nickel plant open.
According to the ABC, Palmer says he has “saved the Yabulu Refinery a second time” by supplying $23m of his own cash to back a new management company for the plant, which will be controlled by him and his nephew, Clive Mensink.
But the ABC is also reporting that Queensland Nickel administrators FTI Consulting told creditors on Tuesday that the funding had come from an unnamed, Sydney-based financier.
FTI, which Palmer sacked as plant managers so he could appoint his new company, is still responsible for resolving Queensland Nickel’s roughly $100m in debt, which is owed to several major suppliers including rail operator Aurizon.
Palmer announced the funding a day after it was reported that the state had offered FTI a $10m loan guarantee to keep the plant open, if Palmer left the business.
This came after Queensland failed in its bid to secure financial support from the Federal Government in the matter.
Palmer believes his business is being discriminated due to his political profile.
“Because it’s Clive Palmer it’s been politicised,” Palmer was quoted as saying by ABC. “It’s disappointing for these workers that their governments at state and federal level didn’t care about them.
“I have been harshly vilified with false allegations in respect of this matter,” he reportedly said.
“The refinery is not closing. We’ve saved 550 jobs.
“The operations were shutting down and I have saved the refinery for a second time.”
Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt demanded details from Palmer, upon hearing of the newfound funding.
“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,” Pitt said.
“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 undertaken today needs to be transparent to all concerned and to the wider North Queensland community.”