Clive Palmer has one week to take charge of safety at his Townsville nickel refinery or the Queensland government will make him.
Mr Palmer regained control of the refinery in February under his new company Queensland Nickel Sales.
But QNS is yet to transfer the major hazard facility licence, which requires the operator to meet stringent safety conditions, from administrators FTI Consulting.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland announced on Thursday that QNS had until July 20 to voluntarily declare itself the operator or it would be given the status regardless.
Complying with the major hazard licence is one of the steps required to reopen the Yabulu refinery, which sacked 550 workers in March.
Mr Palmer announced in June that he would reopen the refinery on March 31 next year after regulatory and commercial requirements were met.
WHSQ said QNS still had one outstanding statutory notice in addition to the major hazard licence.