Axiom Mining restarts Solomons operation
Australian mining operation restarts in the Solomons after a victorious court battle.
A small Australian company, Axiom Mining, has restarted prospecting operations in Solomon Islands only days after winning a High Court battle against Japanese mining giant Sumitomo.
The pair were in court over the lease and prospecting license for a nickel laterite deposit in the country's Isabel province, said to be the largest of its kind in the Pacific.
Axiom CEO, Ryan Mount, told Koroi Hawkins the company is aiming to start direct ore shipping within the next 12 to 18 months.
RYAN MOUNT: It is important for us. It paves the way for us to commence activities on a very significant project. It clarified our legal position as to our land rights and our mineral rights.
KOROI HAWKINS: Now that you have this decision in hand what is the plan? What are you doing going forward?
RM: Well, going forward we are going to be developing this asset and essentially what that involves initially is exploration of the project. What it requires is a proving of the actual resource of nickel and cobalt.
KH: Has this already started or when does this start?
RM: It has started, it, it started over the weekend as well as this week. We have a, we are working on some baseline studies, we are establishing camps and we are, we are about to start moving some machinery over there this week.
KH: So you have made mention of some dates when you want to actually start, actually operating. Is a mining lease application too far off?
RM: We have some ambitious plans to move into mine development relatively quickly and as such that will require a mining lease and we will be applying for a mining lease in the not too distant future.
KH: One interesting thing is you are stating 20 percent for land owners. If you can explain a bit more what that 20 percent actually represents?
RM: It's a straight out 20 percent equity share in the project so it's a 20 percent share in the company that owns the project so they will have a 20 percent interest throughout the business.
KH: There are three licensed mines, they are people with mine leases not operating. What is Axiom KB going to be doing differently?
RM: What we are doing differently, I suppose if we are to make references is obviously we do have an equity share with the landowners and we do have a good relationship with the government and landowners. I think that is what is going to set us apart and ensure our viability in the long term.
KH: It was predicted that your shares would increase as a result of this announcement. Has that happened?
RM: Share, shares have increased, yes. I am not too sure about predictions. We are more focused on operations and if we deliver on our operations, we believe that that will generate value for shareholders.
KH: Maybe a little bit more about the ore itself. If you can speak a little bit more about what it is that you are going to be mining?
RM: It is a nickel laterite deposit. It is a wet tropical laterite. There are a number of deposits similar to the size of this throughout the Pacific. It is one of the largest in the Pacific. Generally nickel laterites lie close to surface or at surface and they generally don't go too far deeper than 20 to 30 metres down and this would be of the same characteristics as well.
KH:And how important is the Solomon Islands operation to the rest of Axiom International's projects?
RM: Well, Solomon Islands is our focus at the moment, you know, we put a lot of resources into the Solomons, we see that there is a lot of potential and we enjoy operating there and think that we can generate value for our shareholders which also include the landowners as well as the rest of the community.
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