Tag Archives: Isabel Nickel Project

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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Sumitomo Metal Mining exits Solomon Islands nickel exploration project

solomon-islands-parliament

Solomon Islands coat of arms on Parliament buildings in Honiara Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Yuka Obayashi | Reuters | 9 August 2017

Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd. said on Tuesday it will exit from a nickel exploration project in the Solomon Islands because of slumping nickel prices and the loss of a legal dispute over mining rights in the country.

Sumitomo Metal Mining, which began exploring in the Solomon Islands in 2005, has been caught up in a six-year legal battle with Australia’s Axiom Mining, which ended this year with neither company being granted the rights over a nickel deposit in Isabel province, it said.

“As a result of our comprehensive review of business circumstances, the final judgment in the legal proceedings and other factors, we have concluded that it is difficult for us to implement the project,” Sumitomo Metal said in a statement.

“We will pull out from all of the pending applications for mining leases,” a company spokesman said, adding the withdrawal will be completed by the end of December.

The Japanese miner declined to disclose its exploration costs and the cost of the legal battle, but said the exit will have a minor impact on its earnings for the current financial year to March 2018.

“During the legal proceedings, nickel prices have plunged. But even if the market picks up, it would be difficult to conduct the project as the social and legal system has not been developed in the Solomon Islands,” the spokesman said.

Sumitomo Metal has said it aims to increase its nickel output from its mine holdings to 150,000 tonnes a year in 2021 from the current 100,000 tonnes.

“We’ll continue to seek new nickel assets through projects in the Philippines and Indonesia, among others,” he said.

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Axiom Mining ups raising thanks to nickel price surge

nickel mine

Similar to the Ramu nickel mine in PNG, Axiom Mining is planning an open-cut nickel mine in the Solomon Islands

Brian Robins | Sydney Morning Herald | August 1, 2016

Hard on the heels of Independence Group’s decision to tap into the surge in the price of nickel by raising funds via a sharemarket placement, minnow Axiom Mining has followed suit as it prepares to launch production at the end of the year.

Axiom has its foot on ready to mine acreage in the Solomon Islands which it hopes can take advantage of the supply interruption for laterite nickel shipped to China.

Following the recent Philippine presidential elections, there has been a halt to production at several nickel mines there due to environmental concerns which has pushed the nickel price higher.

The supply disruption in the Philippines follows the move a couple of years ago by Indonesia to halt all exports of nickel ore, as New Caledonia, too, has had a long-standing ban on exporting to China. Each of these three countries are large producers of laterite nickel which is sought after by Chinese processors, and between them they control an estimated 80 per cent of the lateritic nickel ore globally, and virtually all of the material available in Asia.

Axiom is re-applying for tenements held on the island of Santa Isabel following lengthy litigation with Sumitomo Metal Mining, the large Japanese integrated metals group. As it awaits the outcome of this process, which should become clear within the next few months, it is moving ahead with plans to develop acreage held on the adjacent island of San Jorge, targeting an initial 1 million tonne a year output of ore, rising to 2 million tonnes a year by 2018.

The reserves are shallow, at less than 20 metres with no geological faulting making mining a straightforward proposition. Construction and commissioning costs for an operation of this size is estimated at $US25 million ($33 million) while off-take agreements are also in place.

To get the ball rolling, Axiom sought to raise an initial $3 million late last week but strong investor demand saw this lifted to $5 million, issuing shares at 28¢ with an attached option. Initially it planned to outlay $2 million on a drilling program with $1 million needed for working capital, although it is likely to seek to accelerate its anticipated start to production.

“Indonesia and New Caledonia are not shipping to China,” Axiom chief executive Mr Ryan Mount said, and there is a question mark over future export volumes from the Philippines. “We are the only listed nickel laterite company on the ASX.

“We’re the biggest beneficiary of anyone in Australia.”

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Solomon Islands: Axiom mining Pre-feasibility study nears completion

axiom proposal

Stephen Diisango | Solomon Star | July 27, 2016
AXIOM Mining Limited is nearing the completion of a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) on the Isabel Nickel Project, covering both the San Jorge and Kolosori deposits.
The company’s update as of 25 July reaching this paper revealed that the study is nearing completion thus it is expected to validate the potential of the Isabel Nickel Project.
“Planning of a cost-effective development of the San Jorge tenement is well advanced in anticipation of the imminent commencement of operations to develop the company’s asset of medium to high grade tropical nickel laterite ore.
“Axiom is progressing with its discussions and negotiations with its strategic partners, and the recruitment of key personnel has commenced.
“The application for the Kolosori tenement is before the government. Axiom remains confident of its position as the preferred developer of sustainable mineral development in the Solomon Islands and anticipates a formal response from government shortly.
“Recent developments in the international nickel laterite market continue to bode well for Axiom and reinforce the value of the Isabel Nickel Project.”
Chief Executive Officer Ryan Mount according to the report said that he sees Axiom capitalising on the current market situation.
“The DSO nickel laterite ore market is undergoing unprecedented change. Indonesia, the Philippines and New Caledonia, holding 80% of the world’s nickel laterite reserves for DSO, are refusing to export any significant nickel ore to China.
“In what is becoming one of the most constrained nickel laterite markets in history, Axiom is in the incredible position of being potentially one of the only few viable DSO opportunities for the world’s largest nickel ore consumer, China.”
“The Company has continued to conduct studies in consultation with leading industry experts as to the economics and development of mining for nickel ore located within the Isabel Province, collectively known as the “Isabel Nickel Project.”
Meanwhile, Axiom mining Ltd (ASX: AVQ) has also appointed its new executive general manager, in charge of mining operations in Solomon Islands.
He is Mr Ken Stein who over 40 years’ experience in mining, with a career beginning with BHP in Australia and then to East Timor as Engineering Manager for Billiton, it was revealed.
“Stein was the chief operating officer for European Nickel and Toldeo Mining managing their nickel interests in the Philippines, including the Burong and Ipilan nickel laterite sites.
“Ryan Mount, CEO, commented, “We are delighted to have Ken on-board.
“His experience in most facets of nickel mining and his experience in dealing with governments, local communities and joint venture partners is valuable to Axiom as we advance the development of the our nickel interests in the Solomon Islands,” it said.
From 2004 to 2008 Mr Stein also led BHP’s operations in Angola as General Manager. Later, in Botswana, Ken was responsible for the construction and successful commissioning of the award-winning hydrometallurgical nickel extraction demonstration plant at the Tati Nickel Mine.
More recently he was the Chief Operating Officer for European Nickel and Toldeo Mining managing their nickel interests in the Philippines including the Burong and Ipilan nickel laterite sites.

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Axiom Mining’s nickel license revoked by Solomon Islands’ court

Solomon Islands

Reuters

The development of a large nickel deposit in the Solomon Islands is back to square one this week, as the nation’s highest court ruled that neither of the two firms in Japan and Australia fighting over the discovery were entitled to the license.

The Solomon Islands Court of Appeal on Monday rejected a portion of Sumitomo Metal Mining’s appeal that the country’s government should not have cancelled in 2011 Sumitomo’s license to develop the Isabel nickel laterite discovery.

In the same ruling, the Court of Appeal accepted another portion of the appeal by revoking Axiom Mining’s current license for the Isabel site.

The ruling also returns the site of the Isabel discovery to government ownership without restoring Sumitomo’s earlier license.

Japanese mining giant Sumitomo and tiny Australian explorer Axiom Mining have been fighting over the Isabel discovery since 2011.

Sumitomo won an international tender for prospecting licences in 2010. The licences were cancelled in 2011 and similar rights were later that year awarded to Axiom.

Sumitomo in 2013 sued the Solomon Islands Government and Axiom, claiming that the government wrongly cancelled Sumitomo’s rights and wrongly granted similar rights to Axiom, even though Axiom did not take part in the 2010 international tender.

The High Court of the Solomon Islands in 2014 rejected all of Sumitomo’s claims, and Sumitomo filed an appeal to the nation’s Court of Appeals, the country’s court of final appeal.

Analysts estimate the Isabel discovery compares in size or grade to other large South Pacific nickel mines, such as Vale SA’s Goro mine in New Caledonia and the China-owned Ramu mine in Papua New Guinea.

“We will look closely into the court’s decisions and think about what steps we would take next,” a spokesman for Sumitomo Metal Mining said, adding that the company had no information on whether the Solomon government will conduct a new tender.

Sumitomo Metal’s shares were up 1.4 percent against the 1.9 percent rise in benchmark Nikkei average.

Axiom halted trading in their shares on Monday, according to a release to the Australia Stock Exchange, without giving a reason for the halt.

Axiom officials were not available for immediate comment on the decision.

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Axiom Mining nears Q1 nickel shipments and $10M funding deal

Proactive Investors | 02.02.2016

Axiom Mining is expecting first shipments from Isabel in Q1 2016

Axiom Mining is expecting first shipments from Isabel in Q1 2016

Axiom Mining is edging closer to a milestone first shipment of nickel ore form the Isabel project in the Solomon Islands during Q1 2016 as a A$10 million financing facility and long-term offtake deal unfold.
Planning, design and development work at the project with an eye on this near-term export scenario has paralleled a due diligence process with global independent trading house Gunvor Singapore for financing and offtake continues.
This follows from an initial offtake agreement for 500,000 tonnes of nickel ore and A$5 million ore pre-payment facility executed with Gunvor in December 2015.
Other recent activities at Isabel have included several ecological surveys, environmental fieldwork and the completion of both a development strategy for a life-of-mine pit and a field component of social impact assessment.
Negotiations with key suppliers of marine services, vessels and heavy machinery are completed and they are on standby to move into production.
Ongoing infrastructure development includes camp upgrade, laboratory, roads, barge ramp and stockpile areas.
Preliminary work on San Jorge Island includes survey and environmental baseline monitoring.
Axiom, its landowner partners and the Solomon Islands government secured a definitive victory against Japanese major Sumitomo in the Solomon Islands High Court in 2014.
The subsequent appeal by Sumitomo was completed in June 2015 and a decision is expected to be delivered shortly.

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