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Yabulu, Queensland facts for kids

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Population 675 (2011 census)
Postcode(s) 4818
LGA(s) City of Townsville
State electorate(s) Thuringowa
Federal Division(s) Herbert
Suburbs around Yabulu:
Purono Park Saunders Beach Bushland Beach
Bluewater Yabulu Black River
Bluewater Park Alice River Black River

Yabulu is a small residential suburb approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) north of Townsville, Queensland, Australia. At the 2011 Australian Census the population of Yabulu was 675. The Bruce Highway passes through the suburb which fronts Halifax Bay.

Yabulu is the site of a major nickel and cobalt refinery, owned by Clive Palmer. Facilities located at Yabulu include a Caltex service station.

Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery

The Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery is operated by Queensland Nickel which is wholly owned by Clive Palmer. The Yabulu refinery became operational in 1974 after completion of the Greenvale to Yabulu railway line. Mining at Greenvale took place between 1974 and 1992 during which nickel laterite ore was transported to the Yabulu refinery by rail and processed up until 1993. Importation of ore from mines in New Caledonia, Indonesia, and the Philippines commenced in 1986; ore from these countries continues to be processed to this day.

In 2009, Palmer bought Queensland Nickel and the Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery. The following year, the company increased production by 30%, prompting him to give $10 million worth of Christmas bonuses to staff including 55 Mercedes-Benz B-Class cars and overseas holidays.

Up to approximately 750 people were employed by the refinery, which produces 32,000 tonnes (71,000,000 lb) of nickel and 19,000 t (42,000,000 lb) of cobalt per year. According to the general manager Trefor Flood this figure had risen to 12,000 t (26,000,000 lb) of nickel per month by early 2010.

World Wide Fund for Nature Australia (WWF) raised concerns that a tailings dam at the site could collapse during the wet season, posing an environmental threat to the Great Barrier Reef. WWF later retracted their comments, apologised and were forced to pay legal costs incurred by Palmer who sued WWF because of the comments.

On 15 January 2016 the company terminated 237 workers. Poor nickel prices, which are at a 12-year low, and the refusal of the Queensland government to guarantee a loan of A$35 million were blamed.

On 18 January 2016 Queensland Nickel entered voluntary administration.

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