Palmer bought the Yabulu nickel refinery (above) for A$1 in 2009 and formed Queensland Nickel, which was eventually idled in 2016. (Photo: Queensland Nickel)

Australia’s Clive Palmer, a mining magnate and politician, has reportedly sold the Yabulu nickel and cobalt refinery near Townsville, Queensland to a Swiss special purpose acquisition company Zero Carbon Investek (ZCI), according to Reuters.

Palmer, who bought the refinery in 2009 from for A$1 from BHP, declined to disclose, but Australian newspaper were speculating the price to be nearly A$2 billion ($1.3 billion). The Yabulu Refinery was idled in 2016 during a period of soft nickel prices, and the 700 jobless impacted the surrounding community.

ZCI reportedly issued a statement, saying the refinery could restart in 18 months and is expected to rapidly become one of the world’s top 10 nickel assets, capable of producing 53,500 metric tons per year (mt/y) of nickel and 3,700 mt/y of cobalt.

Saying it planned to invest $800 million in the facility, ZCI also added that it is in advanced discussions with a number of “globally significant strategic players who are seeking product offtake opportunities, alongside investment.” In September, ZCI secured a 30-year port access agreement with the Port of Townsville.

As part of those plans, ZCI said it will develop a large scale 1.5 gigawatt solar photovoltaic plant and battery storage facility to decarbonize production.