1 Mar 2011

Australian mining company secures Solomons nickel deposit

8:37 pm on 1 March 2011

An Australian mining company, Axiom, has secured what it says is one of the world's largest nickel deposits under a 50-year deal in Solomon Islands.

Independent research for Axiom showed the deposit held close to 160 million tonnes of nickel ore, with an estimated value of almost 60 billion US dollars.

Axiom's chief executive, Ryan Mount, says the lease, covering 45 square kilometres on Santa Isabel island, was signed last week in Honiara after months of negotiations.

He says many companies have been trying to secure the lease for decades.

Mr Mount says rather than top down they're building the project from the bottom up by dealing directly with the landowners.

Mr Mount said Axiom was establishing an office in Honiara and would apply for a prospecting licence as soon as possible.

He says the company has formed a joint venture with the local Kolosori and Bungusule Landowner Trustee groups, with Axiom holding 80 per cent.

The resource has not been developed previously due to low nickel prices, landowner issues and political disputes.