QNI could offer 100 jobs before Christmas: Palmer
ONE hundred jobs would be offered immediately if negotiations between Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel and the Port of Townsville were settled, the mining magnate said.
Mr Palmer said yesterday QNI Resources had received draft contracts for review from the Port of Townsville to potentially grant the company port access. He said the negotiations and draft contracts were an encouraging development for QNI Resources and North Queensland jobseekers.
"Once we gain access to the port we can begin receiving nickel ore and can immediately employ 100 people to recommission the refinery, as a forerunner to more than 1000 jobs in the near future," Mr Palmer said in a statement.
"Once the leases are reinstated with the same terms and conditions as were in place previously, we can set about getting Townsville back to work again and making it great."
A company spokesman said jobs for all trades, refinery operators and technical staff would be advertised when contracts were finalised.
"Production won't start in six weeks," he said.
"Once contracts are finalised 100 jobs will be offered immediately.
"We expect that to happen within this six week period."
The spokesman said recommencement of production at the Yabulu refinery would be confirmed once contracts between the Port and QNI are finalised.
"The wharf needs lots of work and maintenance and the refinery needs to be recommissioned," the spokesman said.
"This will take six to 12 months before production begins and it's during this period more jobs will come online, approximately 1000 direct jobs when back in full production."
A Port Of Townsville spokeswoman confirmed representatives from the Port met with Mr Palmer.
"Discussions are commercial in confidence," the spokeswoman said.
"The Port continues very positive discussions with Queensland Nickel."
The spokeswoman did not confirm draft contracts had been sent to QNI.
One of the biggest hurdles Mr Palmer says he has to overcome is access to the port.
In August this year it is understood Mr Palmer started the process of withdrawing a claim against the State Government - which some sources said was the start of regaining access to the port.
The former politician has been active in Townsville this month, setting up an office for his United Australia Party as well as flagging his intention to run for the federal seat of Herbert.
In June Mr Palmer announced plans to reopen QNI by processing nickel ore and tailings at the shuttered refinery in June.
In a statement Mr Palmer said QNI Resources had approved plans to reopen the refinery.
"It was time for all governments and the community to work together to assist the refinery in opening in the shortest possible time,'' the statement read.
"It is time for all sides to forget about politics and to support the Queensland company that owns the refinery and is debt free to open and operate for the benefit of Townsville and the nation."
The refinery was placed into voluntary liquidation in January 2016, before it closed in March 2016 when the former operating company, Queensland Nickel, was placed into liquidation with debts of about $300 million.