Clive Palmer says he has put forward $250 million worth of assets for his ailing nickel refinery and is confident it can trade out of trouble.
The businessman-turned-politician says the assets have come from two of his other companies, Waratah Coal and China First, and include “proven” coal deposits.
The companies also applied to become secured creditors for Queensland Nickel just before 237 jobs were shed from its refinery near Townsville.
In an interview with the ABC, Mr Palmer also described the job losses as “tragic” but part of attempt to keep the operation going and ensure the future of 550 other workers at the refinery.
“We’re heroes, not villains,” he told the ABC.
“I think you’ll see it come out of administration stronger, leaner, fitter, ready to go on.”
Mr Palmer said there was a nine out of 10 chance the Yabulu refinery would remain open.
The mining magnate said the $250 million worth of assets were needed to keep the refinery afloat although they weren’t secured.
He urged the federal and Queensland governments to follow suit.
“I’d just like to challenge the premier and the prime minister to match me, dollar for dollar, to support Queensland Nickel,” he said.
Queensland Nickel went into voluntary administration on Monday and has debts of about $70 million.
The Australian Workers Union tried but failed to convince the Queensland treasurer to guarantee a $35 million loan to protect jobs at the Yabulu refinery.
But the state government insists the request couldn’t be granted because Mr Palmer wouldn’t open his books.
Earlier this week, the federal MP promised to write to every household in the Townsville region to “tell the truth” about what happened with his nickel business, which has donated more than $20 million to the Palmer United Party over the past two years.
A creditors’ meeting is due to be held in Townsville on January 29 and it is understood several Australian and overseas firms are weighing up a possible purchase.
The federal government has offered a $500,000 package to help former employees find work.