Freight Rail

Palmer settles Queensland Nickel dispute with Aurizon

Aurizon worker. Photo:

Mining businessman and former MP Clive Palmer has mostly settled the $200 million dispute over his collapsed Queensland Nickel business, including the $90 million owed to rail operator Aurizon.

Palmer’s barristers told the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday the magnate had come to an agreement with the special purpose liquidators concerning $66 million in outstanding employee entitlements stemming from the collapse of the business early in 2016.

This came after it was announced last week that a $90 million dispute with the company’s largest creditor, Aurizon, had also been settled outside of court.

While the settlement figure was not publicly released, the Financial Review reported a figure of around $20 million was paid to Aurizon for services provided.

Before the nickel business collapsed, Aurizon provided rail transport to move ore from the Yabulu refinery to the Port of Townsville, for export.

After the company collapsed, Aurizon sought to collect as much of what it was owed from the long-term service deal as possible.

Special purpose liquidator Shane Doyle on Friday reportedly told the court it was hoped the Aurizon settlement cleared the way for a broader settlement of the debt dispute.

“We hope to be able to advance that overnight,” Doyle was quoted by the Financial Review. “There has already been the resolution of the Aurizon debt part of the case.”

Come Monday, barristers were prepared to announce a settlement with the special purpose liquidator. Another representative of the liquidator, Stephen Parbery, said the settlement was in the “best interests” of creditors, according to the ABC.

“The complexities of the legal issues facing Mr Palmer and his co-defendants, and the resistance from these parties to the recovery actions, caused lengthy delays to the commencement of the trial,” Parbery was quoted. “With the full weight of the evidence being laid before the defendants ahead of the trial, settlement negotiations were initiated as the trial commenced.”