Clive Palmer says he’ll save Townsville residents from unemployment when he reopens his nickel refinery and will be there to make it happen.

The move could prove politically convenient for the former federal MP, who has revived his political party and is considering running for the Townsville-based seat of Herbert at the next election.

Mr Palmer used a press conference on Friday to repeat his promise to reopen the Yabulu refinery “as soon as we can”.

It was mothballed in early 2016 when Mr Palmer’s Queensland Nickel company collapsed, costing about 800 workers their jobs and leaving creditors owed hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Even though I promised my wife I was retiring … I’ve made a decision that this is going to happen for north Queensland,” he told reporters at an hour-long press conference in Townsville.

“I’m going to move up and live here every day to make sure it happens. If any political person gets in our way, we’ll crush them.”

Queensland Nickel’s liquidators welcomed news the refinery might reopen, but said Mr Palmer must quickly resolve Federal Court proceedings relating to Queensland Nickel’s debts.

Those proceedings rolled on on Friday when the son of Clive Mensink – who is Mr Palmer’s nephew – faced court to be questioned about there whereabouts of his elusive father.

Clive Mensink was the sole registered director of Queensland Nickel when it collapsed, and is the subject of warrants aimed at forcing him to return from an open-ended overseas trip to answer questions in court.

On Friday, his son Ryan Mensink, who is also employed by Mr Palmer, said that was unlikely because his dad was “probably having too much fun” on his travels.

Mr Palmer, who has been ordered to search his records for documents that might reveal the location of his nephew, scheduled his Townsville press conference to coincide with the court hearing in Brisbane.

He called on the Queensland government to stop blocking access to Townsville Port “so we can create new jobs”.

But the government said that was because Queensland Nickel owed the port money.

“He needs to pay his workers. He needs to pay his bills,” a spokesman for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told AAP.

Mr Palmer said about 500 people had registered for jobs that would flow from the refinery’s reopening.