Clive Palmer wants to reopen his Townsville refinery when world nickel prices recover and says prices are already on the rise.
The federal MP hopes to create up to 1000 jobs in Townsville, where almost 800 people were left unemployed after the collapse of his company Queensland Nickel.
Mr Palmer has called on the Queensland government to work with him to ensure refinery jobs can be salvaged down the track.
“Queensland Nickel is certainly finished … but if we’re talking about the refinery certainly it’s being kept in care and maintenance at the moment, and can start up within a short period of time,” he told ABC radio.
“And the nickel price is already starting to recover so if we get a full recovery later on in the year, it’s our plan to open it up and to create up to another 1000 jobs up there for people.”
But Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt wants Mr Palmer out of the picture after administrators said there was evidence of gross, and possibly criminal, mismanagement by Mr Palmer and his nephew before Queensland Nickel collapsed.
“At the appropriate time there will be an opportunity to get it back up and running,” Mr Pitt told the ABC.
“Between now and then Mr Palmer has a decision to make and that is whether he’ll exit the business and allow somebody who will come in and run that plant for the benefit of the people of Townsville and the north Queensland economy.”
Administrators FTI Consulting have said Queensland Nickel should be wound up, and there’s evidence to suggest Mr Palmer used the company as a “piggy bank” to fund his other businesses and interests.
Mr Palmer denies that and says at no time did he or any of his associated companies take money “beneficially owned by Queensland Nickel for any purpose”.
Creditors will vote on Friday on the recommendation to put the company into liquidation.