A $300 million expansion of the Sun Metals Zinc Refinery in Townsville is expected to boost jobs for the north Queensland city struggling in the wake of the collapse of Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel.

Korean-owned Sun Metals says the expansion should create 350 jobs during construction and an extra 100 positions in operations and logistics once completed.

‘The flow on effect will obviously be more money in people’s pockets, more spending within the shops of Townsville,’ the company’s chief financial officer Kathy Danaher said on Friday.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it will go some way to bridging the gap left by the collapse of the Queensland Nickel refinery in 2016, which put more than 800 people out of work and creditors chasing $300 million in debts.

‘I know that people have been doing it tough since the closure of Queensland Nickel,’ the premier said.

‘We all know what happened there, I remember sitting down with workers who lost their jobs, and the impact that had on families, so today is another huge boost for jobs in Townsville.’

The north Queensland city suffers from one of the worst unemployment rates in the state

Ms Palaszczuk said the deal was finalised during her recent trade mission to South Korea.

Details around transport as well as access to Townsville’s port had to be finalised before the deal was completed.

Zinc production will increase from about 220,000 to 270,000 tonnes per year from the refinery once the work is complete.

Earlier this year, Sun Metals brought a $200 million solar farm online, Australia’s largest private solar plant, which it uses to generate around 30 per cent of its power needs.

The refinery expansion is set to begin as soon as possible and is planned to be completed by the first half of 2021.