Palmer paid $1 for failed Qld refinery

CLIVE Palmer paid one dollar for Queensland Nickel when he purchased it from BHP seven years before it collapsed with the loss of hundreds of jobs and owing millions, a court has heard.

The billionaire businessman is fighting a lawsuit in the Brisbane Supreme Court against liquidators following the cash-strapped Townsville refinery's demise.

They're chasing him for about $200 million they say was owed to creditors when QN was shut down by administrators in early 2016.

On Friday, FTI Consulting administrator Kelly-Anne Trenfield revealed the mining magnate had paid just $1 for the Yabulu refinery when he purchased it 2009.

"That's the anecdotal information I received," Ms Trenfield said when asked if she was sure Mr Palmer had paid just $1 for the refinery.

"I know he took on obligations with that."

The Queensland Nickel refinery in Yabulu, north of Townsville. Picture: Cameron Laird
The Queensland Nickel refinery in Yabulu, north of Townsville. Picture: Cameron Laird

Seven years later and with administrators called to take charge of the debt-laden business that allegedly made losses during three of seven years Mr Palmer owned it, the refinery was worth the same amount, she said.

Ms Trenfield has told the court that when her team arrived at QN in January, the company was about $10 million in the red, losing another $1 million a week and had creditors circling.

A week later, Mr Palmer's team allegedly resurrected a little known clause in the QN joint venture agreement that removed the refinery from administrators' control.

Administrators were left with 550 employees to pay and no actual ability to generate revenue to pay their wages, Ms Trenfield said.

The court heard administrators were unable to accept the Queensland government's offer to provide emergency funding because it would have required a costly environmental clean-up of the poorly maintained refinery.

Ms Trenfield rejected assertions Mr Palmer and his team had offered to take on the ailing refinery's liabilities.

"I valued that undertaking as being worthless," she said.

Businessman Clive Palmer outside court in Brisbane. Picture: AAP/Jono Searle
Businessman Clive Palmer outside court in Brisbane. Picture: AAP/Jono Searle

QN collapsed three months later.

Mr Palmer was a no-show in court on Friday, despite being roasted by Justice Debra Mullins earlier in the week.

It was left it up to a lawyer for his companies, Dr Chris Ward, to inform the court there were more problems with the former federal MP's replacement expert insolvency witness.

The news came a day after Justice Mullins criticised the Palmer camp about their tardy efforts finding a new expert witness when she learned the proposed replacement had flown to Brazil and couldn't start work until next week.

The saga has been ongoing since the trial began and the court heard Mr Palmer's original insolvency expert, Peter Dinoris, had become ill and resigned from the defence team.

This prompted the Palmer camp to make a spirited last-minute bid to postpone the trial, which Justice Mullins rejected.

The trial continues.

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