11 Oct 2004

Solomon Islands government reacts cautiously to news of nickel deposit

4:53 pm on 11 October 2004

The Solomon Islands government is proceeding cautiously with the news that there could be a substantial nickel deposit in Isabel Province.

It's been reported that the PacRim Resources company, which has a license for the area, says it believes there's about 40 million tonnes of ore in the province.

But the permanent secretary for the department of Mines and Energy, Don Tolia, says the figure is overstated and much needs to be done to prove that.

He says PacRim's license is due for renewal next month and the Minerals Board will sit to determine whether that's granted.

"We want to really prove that there is a deposit there that could be mined and mined in a processing technique - how to extract the nickel from the ore. That would determine the economics of the project."

Mr Tolia says PacRim has had difficulty accessing the site over the last couple of years because it wasn't granted a business license by the provincial authority.