Two companies owned by federal MP and businessman Clive Palmer have taken over a multi-million-dollar court case involving Queensland Nickel.
Before Queensland Nickel went into administration in January, the company launched legal action against Sino Iron in the Pilbara in Western Australia.
Queensland Nickel alleged unpaid royalties relating to the operations in Western Australia caused major losses for the Yabulu refinery near Townsville.
Lawyers for Sino Iron filed an application for the case to be struck out.
In Brisbane’s Supreme Court, the owners of the Townsville refinery — QNI Metals and QNI Resources — have been substituted as parties in the case.
Both companies are ultimately owned by Mr Palmer.
Justice David Jackson has given lawyers for the joint venture two days to make submissions, expressing frustration at the lengthy delays in the court process since Queensland Nickel went into administration.
Palmer’s business woes continue
Queensland Nickel Sales (QNS), another Clive Palmer-owned company, took over as manager of the Townsville refinery after Queensland Nickel went into voluntary administration and sacked more than 200 workers.
Another 550 workers at the beleaguered facility near Townsville were made redundant last Friday.
Another of Mr Palmer’s businesses, Palmer Aviation, was put into liquidation late last month.
Palmer Aviation owes $26 million and has one asset, a luxury bombardier jet.
Administrators FTI Consulting are selling the jet but it is understood it may be worth less than half of Palmer Aviation’s debt.
It is another financial blow to Queensland Nickel, which already owes about $100 million to creditors.
Mr Palmer has warned that production might not resume until the end of July unless a number of demands from administrators and the Queensland Government are met.
Meanwhile, Queensland Liberal National MP Ewen Jones told Federal Parliament the refinery had fallen victim to a “phoenix operation”, where assets and cash are moved elsewhere before the collapse of a business.
Mr Jones said Mr Palmer had been acting as “shadow director” behind the scenes and that the role of the Fairfax MP in the issue could not be “underestimated”.