News & Blog Posts · Energy & Climate

Nickels and dimes – Clive Palmer’s costly capers

21 August, 2018

Clive Palmer has been engaged in multiple litigation matters linked to the closure of the Yabulu nickel refinery in Townsville 2016. Find out why EDO Qld will be monitoring the status of this project and others to ensure that the environmental impacts are properly assessed.

Clive Palmer has been engaged in multiple litigation matters linked to the closure of the Yabulu nickel refinery in Townsville 2016.

The closure of the site left over 800 workers unemployed and multiple outstanding debts, including the multi-million dollar clean-up debt to the State Government to rehabilitate the site.

In May 2018, Justice Bond of the Supreme Court made an order to freeze over $200 million dollars in Mr Palmer’s assets in proceedings between Mr Palmer and the liquidators of Queensland Nickel.

Mr Palmer has also instigated multiple defamation matters involving statements about his handling of Queensland Nickel, including a claims that Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, made defamatory comments about his conduct.

Last month, Mr Palmer announced his intention to reopen the Yabulu nickel refinery (see here). It remains unclear whether this will be a viable option, in light of the abandonment of the site in 2016, the necessary infrastructure, and the suite of litigation matters on foot.

In the event that the site is reopened, EDO Qld strongly urges the State Government to require a financial assurance security to cover the cost of rehabilitating the site. No financial assurance was held by the State Government for the site when it was closed in 2016, leaving the rehabilitation cost to the taxpayer. This cost included making safe a number of environmental hazards, including the decommissioning of a large tailings dam containing dangerous contaminants.

At the same time, Mr Palmer’s company Waratah Coal Pty Ltd has continued to progress with approvals for a number of large scale mining projects, including the Galilee Coal Project and the Alpha North Coal Mine Project.

The Galilee Coal Project has completed its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) through the Queensland Coordinator-General (see here).  

A voluntary EIS application has been submitted under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) for the Alpha North Coal Project, which is currently under assessment by the Department of Environment and Science (DES). Once the decision for the voluntary EIS has been made this information will be available here.

Where DES approves the application, the public will be invited to comment on both the terms of reference and the EIS. It is important to note that, should the project proceed to the environmental authority application stage, subsequent opportunities for public comment may not be required where an EIS has already been publicly notified.

EDO Qld will be monitoring the status of these projects to ensure that the environmental impacts are properly assessed.