Aussie Mining Mogul sells Nickel Refinery to Swiss Company

Controversial Australian businessman Clive Palmer has sold the Yabulu Nickel and Cobalt Refinery in Townsville to a Swiss consortium for $US1.3 billion. Palmer sold his joint venture shares in QNI Resources and QNI Metals Inc. to a special-purpose vehicle – Zero Carbon Investek, created to facilitate the acquisition of the mining company.

The Yabulu Refinery went into voluntary administration in 2016, suffering amid collapsing nickel prices and never restarted operations. BHP appointed administrators for the mine seven years ago, costing Queensland hundreds of jobs in the process. As a result of the closure, the Townsville community saw unemployment rise to 13 percent.
It is rumoured that Palmer acquired Queensland Nickel for $1 from BHP, yes – one Aussie.

There are several photos of Palmer giving a “thumbs up” – a clear correlation with the rate of the gesture per quarter billion earned.

Zero Carbon Investek claims the mine should restart in 18 months, expecting it become one the world’s top 10 nickel assets – with the potential to produce 53.5 ktpa / yr. of nickel and 3.7 ktpa of cobalt. They plan to invest $800 million, which will be deployed to develop a 1.5-gigawatt solar photovoltaic plant and battery storage facility. In September the company landed a 30-year port access agreement with the Port of Townsville.

Member for Townsville and Queensland Minister for Resources Scott Stewart believes the reopening of the site can create opportunities but remains skeptical. The region can deliver the silica, copper, aluminum, nickel, and cobalt demanded for electric vehicles and a global energy transition – but he would like to see operational results before celebrating the deal.


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