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QR loco 1556 and a 1720 class haul the Sunlander northbound through Yabulu, ~1991.jpg
QR loco 1556 and a 1720 class haul the Sunlander northbound through Yabulu, circa 1991
Yabulu is located in Queensland
Location in Queensland
Population 697 (2016 census)
 • Density 19.69/km2 (51.0/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 4818
Area 35.4 km2 (13.7 sq mi)
Time zone AEST (UTC+10:00)
LGA(s) City of Townsville
State electorate(s) Thuringowa
Federal Division(s) Herbert
Suburbs around Yabulu:
Bluewater Saunders Beach Coral Sea
Bluewater Yabulu Beach Holm
Lynam Black River Black River

Yabulu is a town and coastal suburb in the City of Townsville, Queensland, Australia. In the 2016 census, Yabulu had a population of 697 people.

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.


In the 2016 Census, there were 697 people in Yabulu. 78.1% of people were born in Australia and 86.4% of people spoke only English at home. The most common responses for religion were Catholic 25.1%, No Religion 24.4% and Anglican 19.2%.

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