MELBOURNE Jan 21 Larger-than-life mining magnate Clive Palmer was riding a boom in mineral prices less than two years ago and had become one of Australia’s most influential politicians.
Now, rattled by a slide in commodity prices, the colourful and often controversial tycoon’s grip on parts of his business empire is crumbling and his political ambitions have also been dented by defections in the party he created.
Other Australian mining magnates such as Gina Rinehart, one of Asia’s richest women, and Andrew “Twiggy” Forest have also seen their fortunes plummet. Palmer’s problems came to a head this week when his embattled Queensland Nickel (QNI) refinery called in administrators after sacking more than 200 workers.
Palmer did not return calls seeking comment but fellow Queensland-based independent lawmaker Bob Katter described him as a “survivor” and said it was too soon to count him out, particularly if he could get state or federal help for his refinery.
“I knew him from when we were both kicked out of university as young blokes. And believe it or not, Clive’s been in worse holes,” Katter told Reuters.
Palmer told Australian media QNI had been forced into this position after failing to get “minimal” assistance from the Queensland state government.
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