Category Archives: Solomon Islands

Fears for marine protected area after bauxite mine ship grounds in Solomons

Radio New Zealand | 13 February 2019 

Environmentalists fear the grounding of a ship off Rennell Island in the Solomons could bring more damage to a marine protected area.

The MV Solomon Trader hit a reef in Kangava Bay off Rennell Island just over a week ago as it was loading bauxite from a nearby mine.

Chris Bone of OceansWatch Solomon Islands told Sally Round the reef is likely to be damaged and comes on top of bauxite spillage in the bay and coral bleaching.

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Oil spill feared after ship grounding on reef in Solomon Islands

A disastrous oil spill could occur in Solomon Islands area, after the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier ‘Solomon Trader’ ran aground on a reef on the remote island of Rennell, south of the capital Honiara.

Safety4Sea | 14 February 2019

The 225 meter-long ship grounded last week after she attempted to collect bauxite from a nearby mine site. Now the ship’s engine room is already filling with water, according to local media.Authorities in Solomon Islands are working to prevent the oil spill, but heavy weather conditions impede the salvage operations.

The location of the grounding is a marine-protected area which creates further concerns for the impact on the reef.

Jonah Mitau, the acting Director of the Solomon Islands Maritime Administration, told ABC news the biggest worry is the threat of oil leaking from the vessel:

If the weather continues to deteriorate, then we will be having an oil spill situation. We do not have the equipment to contain such a situation. We are trying to get the ship owner and agent to organise themselves,

…he was quoted as saying.

Authorities say the owner of the ship will attempt to use tug boats to pull the ship off the reef, once the weather improves.


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Nickel mining set to start on Solomons’ San Jorge island

Axiom drilling activity on Isabel Nickel Project.

Radio New Zealand | 6 October 2018 

Nickel mining is finally set to commence on San Jorge Island in Solomon Islands’ Isabel Province.

An Australian company, Axiom, this week announced that mining will begin in December.

It said the mine’s first nickel ore shipment was expected to be made in the first quarter of next year.

Axiom, which was granted a lease by the Solomons government last month, said it was close to finalising finance for its project.

According to the company, it is in “advanced stages of negotiations with a number of parties” who are potential partners in the mine.

On the back of Wednesday’s announcement, shares in Axiom Mining rose sharply on the Australian stock exchange.

Isabel is considered to possess one of the largest clusters of nickel laterite deposits in the Pacific.

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Axiom says near supply agreement for Solomon Islands nickel mine

Axiom drilling activity on Isabel Nickel Project.

Melanie Burton | Reuters | October 3, 2018

Australia’s Axiom Mining on Wednesday said it was close to deciding on a partner to take nickel ore supplies from its mine in the Solomon Islands in exchange for finance.

Mining at the San Jorge project in the Pacific nation will start in December, with ore shipments expected to begin in the first quarter of next year, Axiom said in a statement.

The Solomon Islands approved a mining lease last month and ore loading facilities are currently being built, the firm said.

A previous mine finance arrangement with Gunvor Singapore, for A$5 million ($3.6 million) in funding and up to A$10 million towards mine construction, that was made in 2015 has now expired, Axiom said.

“With the recent grant of the mining lease there has been an increase of interest and demand from nickel ore consumers for Axiom’s San Jorge material,” it said.

The San Jorge mine is a nickel laterite ore deposit.

“Terms and conditions of proposed agreements continue to be refined and are in a final stage of negotiation,” Axiom said, without giving further detail. ($1 = 1.3953 Australian dollars)

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Axiom granted mining lease for Isabel nickel project in Solomon Islands

Imelda Cotton | Small Caps | September 20, 2018

Axiom is now fully permitted to commence mining of the Isabel nickel project (San Jorge), with first shipment of ore expected in Q1 of 2019.

Minerals explorer, via its 80%-owned subsidiary AxiomKB, has been formally granted a mining lease by the Solomon Islands government for the San Jorge nickel deposit, which sits within the company’s flagship Isabel nickel project.

The 25-year lease has been issued for the extraction, export and sale of nickel ore and associated commodities from San Jorge and allows Axiom to commence construction at Isabel, with a view to commercial production in early 2019.

In awarding the lease, Solomon Islands Minister for Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification Bradley Tovosia commented on Axiom’s contribition to the local region.

“The Isabel project is to be an important part of our economy, and it is exciting to see real production now moving forward for everyone’s benefit,” he said.

Upgrades of a temporary exploration camp to a long-term mining camp have commenced, in addition to the construction of supporting roads and loading facilities.

Community consultations are also underway in preparation for the first shipment of ore.

Financing for life of mine construction and development is in the advanced stages and due to be finalised over the coming weeks.

The Pacific’s largest nickel deposit

The Isabel nickel project is widely considered one of the largest nickel laterite deposits in the Pacific region, hosting a historical non-JORC deposit of 159 million tonnes at 1.1% nickel and 0.07% cobalt.

It comprises a number of deposits within the Solomon Islands’ Isabel province, including the key deposits of San Jorge and Kolosori, operated by AxiomKB (Axiom 80% ownership) in partnership with local landowners (20%).

Both are spread over 36 square kilometres each, with San Jorge accounting for approximately 50% of the known deposits within the Isabel acreage.

The deposits at San Jorge sit very close to the surface in uninhabited land along a shore which encompasses a natural deep water harbour – all qualities which will enable Axiom to bring a direct shipping of ore operation to the market in a timely and environmentally-acceptable way.

Project history

Axiom’s milestone signifies the first time in the Isabel nickel project’s history that an owner has been granted a mining lease.

Previous San Jorge tenement owner and former nickel major, Inco Ltd (now owned by Brazilian mining giant Vale) conducted feasibility studies during the 1970s based on results from over 7000 drill holes and pits and 10,000 samples.

In 1991, Kaiser Engineers completed its own study on Inco’s data, determining preliminary capital and operating expenditures and conducting economic analyses and financial modelling.

Development by either owner did not progress further due to a failure to win the support of customary landowners from the Kolosori and Bungusule tribes.

In December 2010, Axiom’s collaborative approach resulted in a partnership with the landowners and the Axiom KB joint venture was established. Then in September 2014, AxiomKB emerged successful after three years of litigation proceedings instigated by Sumitomo Mining Metals Solomon over the Isabel nickel deposit.

Last month, Axiom announced it would be recruiting key positions and growing its board of directors to enhance its operational expertise and strengthen its position during the project’s development.

At midday, shares in Axiom were trading 34.02% higher at $0.130.

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Australian miner loses bauxite licence in Solomons

NASA picture of Nende in Solomon Islands’ Temotu province. Photo: NASA

Radio New Zealand | 30 May 2018 

An Australian company wanting to mine bauxite in Solomon Islands has had its exploration licence rescinded.

AU Capital Mining was exploring in Nende in the remote eastern province of Temotu, but it has been notified by the Mining Minister, Bradley Tovosia that their prospecting to date has been unsatisfactory.

The minister went on to say that the company had failed to establish amicable relations with the local communities in Nende – something that is required under the agreement.

AU Capital Mining obtained an initial provincial business licence a year ago but it has been confronted by significant opposition in Nende ever since.

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Tensions in Temotu as expiry of Aus miner’s licenses loom

NASA picture of Nende, known also as Santa Cruz, in Solomon Islands’ Temotu province. Photo: NASA

Radio New Zealand | 15 March 2018 

Tensions are rising in Temotu as an Australian miner’s licences to prospect and operate in the Solomon Islands’ province approach their expiry date.

Pacific Bauxite secured a prospecting license in 2016 with the support of some local landowners and obtained a provincial business license, after a change in the local government, to begin working on Nende Island.

But it has met with stiff opposition from other landowning groups who accuse the company of operating illegally and are trying to take it to court.

Koroi Hawkins has more – audio link 

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Gold Ridge slams cyanide claims

The Gold ridge tailings dam.

Solomon Star | 07 February 2018

GOLD Ridge Mining Limited (GRML) has dismissed findings of a research that claims high levels of cyanide were found in sediments downstream of its central Guadalcanal mine.

Researcher Dickson Boboria, a Solomon Islander studying for his doctoral degree, claims the situation has put the livelihoods of the Metapona communities at risk.

But Gold Ridge last night refuted Mr Boboria’s findings.

The company said the findings are in direct contradiction to the cyanide sampling results obtained from Gold Ridge Mine and accredited independent environmental consultants.

“Gold Ridge Mine in collaboration with an Independent Environmental Auditor and community monitors has in place a robust environmental monitoring protocol to monitor cyanide levels in the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) and downstream,” the company said in a statement.

“TSF monitoring has been in place from the inception of the mine in 1996,” it added.

“The results of monitoring from December 2017 show that cyanide is not present in the top five metres of the surface water of the TSF.

“Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML) took sediment samples prior to and during the 2016 spill over event including locations downstream of the dewatering discharge pipe into the Tinahulu River and downstream of the spill over into the Kuara stream.

“All samples taken from rivers and stream were below detection levels of cyanide – less than 1 milligram per kilogram.

“GRML undertakes sampling of the TSF and downstream to robust good practice standards with the results analysed at an internationally accredited laboratory, Australian Laboratory Services.

“GRML is transparent in its approach.”

The statement said relevant ministries and government officers receive a weekly report on the TSF, which includes results of sampling as soon as they are received.

“In addition, two independent sampling regimes complement the company’s approach.

“The National Public Health Laboratory carries out a sampling regime and The University of Queensland (UQ) on behalf of the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) have collected samples since 2014 and analysed them at internationally accredited laboratories.

“Sediment samples taken by UQ and SIG in 2016, started from the Chovohio River, all the way down to Metapono including Kwara and the Tinahulu rivers.

“The UQ/SIG research sampled sediment at a total of 19 sites, with the majority around or downstream of the TSF.

“ sampling included four sites along the Matepono River including one at the river mouth.

“At all sites, no cyanide was detected within the sediments sampled meaning that cyanide levels were below detection level (less than 1 milligram per kilogram (<1mg/kg)).

“Cyanide has only been found in sediment taken from deep core sediment samples at an approximate depth of half a metre into the sediment layer of the dam.”

The company said in January 2018, UQ and SIG undertook another program of comprehensive TSF and downstream sampling commissioned by the United Nations Development Program with the results to soon be released.

“I am surprised that the institution where Dickson Boboria studies allowed him to publicly report data that is factually incorrect and misleading especially on a matter that has the potential to create uncertainty and emotion for downstream communities,” Walton Naezon, Director of GRML, said yesterday.

Henry Tobani, the Independent Environmental Auditor for the tailings dam and downstream communities, expressed concern that Mr Boboria may not have potentially exercised his duty of care as a researcher in the manner in which he has presented his findings.

“We understand that the media can sensationalise reports, especially when presented verbally, but there is no excuse for what could possibly be blatant misinformation,” Mr Tobani said.

“It is usual for researchers to have a research method and protocol and to request permission to access and use data,” he added.

Dr Fiona Martin, Gold Ridge Mine’s General Manager Community and Government Relations, said:

“It is my understanding that Mr Boboria did not obtain informed consent from the designated Gold Ridge Mine representative to access site, so we are unsure where and how he got his data.”

Dr Martin said she believed that this situation could possibly mean that Mr Boboria may have breached his university data collation protocols.

She expressed concern that the usual ethical and research methodological standards expected from a doctoral research student from a university of standing may not be in place for this project, which calls into question the research.

Dr Martin requested Mr Boboria to contact the Gold Ridge Mine environmental team to share and discuss his results.

“We are transparent in how we share our data and are happy to provide Mr Boboria access to our data to assist with his research.

“We expect researchers to extend the same courtesy and to discuss their research methods and preliminary findings from Gold Ridge Mine data with us prior to public release.”

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