Australian businessman and mining magnate Clive Palmer has reportedly sold the idled Yabulu nickel refinery in Queensland in a A$2 billion deal.

The buyer is Swiss-based Zero Carbon Investek, according to a Reuters report.

Palmer bought the asset from BHP in 2009 from BHP for A$1. A spokesperson for the tycoon said the sale to ZCI is speculation.

Yabulu has been in involuntary administration since 2016, when it idled amid a drop in the nickel market.

Zero Carbon, meanwhile, told the news wire service it expects the refinery to restart within 18 months and produce 53,500 tonnes annually of nickel and 3,700 t/y of cobalt. It expects it will be one of the top 10 nickel assets in the world.

In fact, it said in the Reuters report, Zero Carbon is in advanced discussions with "globally significant strategic players who are seeking product offtake opportunities, alongside investment."

It is also planning a $800 million post-acquisition investment in the site. Part of those plans include the development of a large-scale, 1.5-gigawatt solar photovoltaic plant and battery storage facility.

Source: Reuters