Millions of dollars and a recovery in the nickel price are needed to revive Queensland Nickel’s shuttered refinery, liquidators pursuing Clive Palmer for millions in debts say.
John Park of FTI Consulting, one of the liquidators appointed to the failed Queensland Nickel on Friday, said a “large capital injection” was needed to ensure the refinery was operationally and environmentally safe.
“Our independent view is that it will really be dependent on where the nickel price goes and indeed someone coming with an open cheque book to spend a bit of money on the refinery,” Mr Park said.
The liquidator team is now focused on recovering around $200 million owed to creditors of Queensland Nickel, the management company that once controlled the north Queensland nickel plant.
The size of any injection would largely depend on the likely buyer, Mr Park said, noting that one the size of BHP Billiton “could probably commit tens and tens and tens of millions of dollars”, while a smaller party would spend less.
The Townsville refinery is in care and maintenance mode after Queensland Nickel was placed in administration in January as nickel prices tumbled to a 10-year low.
In March, Queensland Nickel was replaced as the refiner’s manager by Queensland Nickel Sales, which is run by Mr Palmer and controlled by two of his companies.
Mr Palmer has repeatedly said that he wants to reopen the refinery in the future but the Queensland government is pressuring the businessman-turned-politician to sell the refinery to a third party so it can resume production.
Mr Park doesn’t believe the chances of the refinery reopening look good, rating them as “still quite low”.
Mr Park’s comments come after Queensland Nickel creditors, including 787 workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of winding up the business at a meeting in Townsville on Friday.
There is also confusion about the role of a special purpose liquidator, which the federal government is pushing for.
Mr Park and his colleagues will meet with representative from the federal government next week to discuss the special purpose liquidator’s role and funding.