9 May 2011

Solomons Mines and Minerals Board could face legal action over Axiom matter

2:18 pm on 9 May 2011

The Solomon Islands Mines and Minerals Board may face legal action over the issuance of a prospecting licence to Australian mining company Axiom KB.

In March, Axiom was granted a licence to explore a large nickel deposit in a 50-year deal with landowners in Isabel Province.

But last month, the government claimed the licence was invalid because the former Mines Minister hadn't followed the correct procedure.

Axiom is pushing ahead with exploration plans for which it claims to have landowner approval.

However Isabel's Bugotu Landowners Association has distanced itself from Axiom, accusing it of misleading conduct, and calling for an investigation.

Meanwhile, Sumitomo Metal Mining Solomons claims that the Mines and Minerals Board ignored it as the winning bidder of the international tender for the Isabel deposit.

Sumitomo says it was disqualified without explanation, and is seeking legal action against the board for mishandling the matter.