Will Clive Palmer and QNI go the way of the fibreglass dinosaurs?

Palmer_4429712-3x2-340x227_300As far as I know Clive Palmer’s two main cash producing assets were Queensland Nickel and the Coolum Resort, known now mainly for the fibreglass dinosaurs he installed all over the place. Coolum is presently shut, and Queensland Nickel has gone into receivership. Terry Barnes thinks “Palmer and his political influence are going the way of the fibreglass dinosaurs inhabiting his defunct resort at Coolum.”

Recently 237 of the 800 workers were shown the door, and there may be no funds available to pay their entitlements. An astonishing factor is that in recent years QNI has donated $22 million to the Palmer United Party, $290,000 on December 31, 2015 when plans must have been afoot for the sackings. The receiver may be able to chase these payments, but two of Palmer’s other companies were also established as prime creditors, at the head of the queue.

The Conversation has a piece outlining the history of the refinery. Originally it was built to process ore mined nearby at Greenvale, but for a long time now it has depended on imported ore, much of it from the West Pacific.

Because QNI is a private company we don’t get to see its books, but The Conversation authors say it is now old technology and bound to be expensive. Nickel prices experience strong booms and busts.

The Queensland Government were never asked for money, rather to guarantee a loan of $35 million. There is talk of the nickel price improving by mid-year, so the refinery may survive. Nevertheless, it’s hard for governments to help someone so politically involved, especially one who seems to be given to changing his story quite frequently. Moreover in Australia we tend not to help private companies over bumps in the road.

Meanwhile Government seems to be anxious to increase infrastructure works in the Townsville area. People are asking why the effort and anxiety for Townsville when 20,000 jobs have been ripped out of Central Queensland mining area?

There is also a small matter of cleaning up the site if QNI goes bust, which could cost the government $35 million.

7 thoughts on “Will Clive Palmer and QNI go the way of the fibreglass dinosaurs?”

  1. I forgot to mention, Palmer told the ABC (scroll down to the bottom) that he was going to recontest the seat of Fairfax. No-one thinks he can win it and a switch to the senate would not surprise.

  2. One of the things I don’t like is the way people suffering low profile retrenchments get little government support while the high profile retrenchments get a flurry of government help. Anybodies guess to what extent Clive will have to pay for a failure of part of his empire and the environmental mess QNI may leave us with.
    The good news is that what has happened with QNI may lead to changes in the law to give better protection to retrenchment entitlements the putting aside of money for clean-up when a comapny fails.

  3. To me, there should be no retrenchment entitlements at all, this moneys should be handed to the workers in their paycheques.
    To invest, save or spend as they see fit.

    As for Clive, most of his wealth was unrealised and won’t be anytime soon if ever.
    Politically he’s a big spender/promiser.
    As a businessman he’s a litigant bully and rent seeker.
    His base will go back to the majors till the next protest vote party pops up.
    Nick Xylophone will get some in the interim .

  4. I mused once that if Clive Palmer held average wealth no one would cross the street to talk to him.

    Yesterday he claimed (ABC radio about 3pm est) to have kicked in $250 million to save Queensland Nickel. He did not mention where he got the money but then went on to poke State and Federal pollies in the eye for not helping. Someone should tell Palmer about Dale Carnegie.

    The Conversation link gives the impression that Palmer’s assets are not so great. His Coolum resort is closed and his nickel plant is described as a stranded asset being poorly located and of old (relatively inefficient) design.

    Perhaps Clive is working hard right now to deflect personal liability away from himself should an administrator assign some liability to Clive that might lead to his bankruptcy. I think that could end his parliamentary career if there were any chance of it continuing past this term.

    Finally, glad to see the blowtorch has been taken off Jumpy from the Men Behaving Badly topic. in my view the thread was one of the most meritorious threads on Climate, but it veered towards “reforming” Jumpy a bit too much. That said, it was/is a great topic, and made me query my own position and history that, as it turns out, was not flawless.
    If you wonder why I did not contribute, I have been in the throes of moving from the Daintree to Cairns. Still at that but nearly done…

  5. Geoff, welcome back. I haven’t done a move like that since 1981, but I can imagine it would be humungous.

    Thanks for the feedback on the other thread. Jumpy kept making comments which required a response. I never had any hope or expectation of ‘reforming’ him.

    My impression is that Palmer has put nothing into QNI, just backed it with $250m of his other assets as surety. According to an article in the CM today the $48 million he was fighting with the Chinese about over royalties was to go into QNI. He lost, which I think is where he started to get into trouble.

    The CM article lists a great string of assets from his parliamentary declaration. There seems to be a way to go before he’s bankrupt. But I would think it requires his full-time attention, so losing a political career might be a personal blessing, although quite a good little earner in itself.

    Have to go and work now in the insufferable heat.

  6. The latest I’ve heard on this is that Queensland Nickel in an operating company, and the refinery itself is held in other Palmer companies, outside the reach of the administrator. The refinery is said to be worth $1.9 billion, but it’s hard to see that it’s worth anything if it can’t make a profit.

  7. Yes Clive has a troubled future it seems.
    A refinery that relies on ore from other mines may well lose the confidence of those mines, and likely other suppliers too leading to a cascade of more bad news.
    His political support has reportedly evaporated.
    The sacking of so many employees just prior to the appointment of administrators looks strategic. It may have something to do with the entitlement status of employees, affecting their claim as creditors(?).
    And his readiness to abandon diplomacy has likely left him with few friends at court.

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