Qld Nickel refinery death may be imminent

By Ed Jackson
AAP

A union says everything needs to be done to stop Clive Palmer's nickel refinery being wound up by the end of the week.

Queensland Nickel's administrators FTI Consulting are seeking a cash injection to ensure the plant near Townsville can continue to operate.

FTI has asked the Queensland government for an emergency $10 million overdraft facility to deal with a cash flow crisis, and warns that without it the plant will close and Queensland Nickel will end up in liquidation, the Australian Financial Review reports.

It's not clear if the request is for the Queensland government to stump up the money, or simply go guarantor on a loan.

A spokesman for Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt told AAP the state government won't be providing funds to prop up the ailing business.

"The Queensland government has made its position clear on providing direct financial assistance to companies and the precedent that might set," the spokesman said.

Australian Workers Union secretary Ben Swan says the importance of the refinery to the north Queensland economy makes it an asset that can't be allowed to simply fold.

"There is obviously a pressing need for an injection of capital into the business to enable it to bring the plant completely up to scratch," Mr Swan told AAP.

"That's the first order of priority."

Mr Pitt has approached his federal counterpart, Scott Morrison, for Commonwealth assistance on the matter.

Liquidation would create a further 550 job losses with the federal government liable for the worker entitlements in that scenario.

Mr Morrison said the Turnbull Government was considering its options.

"The government remains very sympathetic to the situation faced by the workers at Queensland Nickel and the situation the owner has left them in," he said in a statement to AAP.

"We will obviously consider any matters put forward to the government but also note this is predominantly an issue for the Queensland Government and we would consider issues in this context."

FTI Consulting has previously said Queensland Nickel had enough cash to operate until April 30, but would require a huge cash injection to keep running after that.

The state government rejected a request from Mr Palmer to go guarantor on a $35 million loan before Queensland Nickel went into voluntary administration in January, soon after 237 workers were sacked.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Palmer also needed to help.

"Clive Palmer is linked to this company intimately and he needs to let Queenslanders know what assets he is putting on the table first and foremost," she said.

The premier stressed her government had provided support for affected workers and fast-tracked infrastructure in the region in response to the refinery's struggles.

"My commitment to Townsville is very clear, I want to know what Clive Palmer's commitment to Townsville is," she said.