CommNickel was a community buyback project launched in late 2015 in response to concerns raised about the then impending closure of Queensland Nickel, in Townsville. A creditor/stakeholder model of ownership was developed and a transaction negotiated with the asset owner. Extensive discussions were entertained with ore suppliers in New Caledonia to maintain continuity of supply, as well as with off take customers in Europe, Japan and the USA to sure-up cashflow.
Confronted with real environmental remediation risks, the project team proposed to the Queensland State Government to support an upgrade of water treatment facilities and undertake a complete overhaul of the tailings dams to fully mitigate future risks. At the same time, we had proposed to the Commonwealth Government that they support the upgrade and expansion of production capacity. Both proposals were in the form of long-term loans (as opposed to grants).
The introduction and subsequent passage of the Chain of Responsibility Amendment Bill in the Queensland Parliament created unknown uncertainties for future investors, and the proposed community buyback was consequently suspended indefinitely (mid-2016).