AXIOM Mining Limited (AML) says it has initiated legal proceedings at the High Court over the government’s handling of its export permit application.
General Manager Dr Phil Tagini said they’ve filed a claim for judicial review against the decision of the Minerals Board, as well as a misfeasance claim against the Minister of Mines Bradley Tovosia and Director of Mines Nicholas Biliki for failing to properly exercise their powers under Regulations 70 and 71 of the Mines and Minerals Regulations pertaining to the company’s export permit application.
“Furthermore there are subsequent requests for materials by the Ministry of Mines which the law does not require for the consideration of an export permit,” Tagini explained.
He said the application has met the requirements of the Mines and Minerals (MM) regulations and thus the company should have been granted an export permit to ship out its nickel ore products to its United States-based buyer, Traxys.
However, Tagini said Minister Tovosia in a letter dated July 18 this year informed Axiom that the Minerals Board following its extra-ordinary meeting on July 5, had decided to reject the company’s export permit application on the basis that it did not possess a business licence from the Isabel Provincial Government (IPG).
The Board had maintained that this is a requirement even though it is not required in the Act or Regulations.
Tagini explained that Axiom’s non-possession of a business licence was not deliberate on its part but was rather due to failure of the Isabel Provincial Government to respond positively to its numerous applications and attempts to obtain a business licence.
He said Axiom has come to a stage where it could no longer tolerate the overreach of the Board and must bring the matter for an independent interpretation by the Courts.
He added Axiom’s nickel mine project on San Jorge is projected to contribute up to 15 to 20 percent of Solomon Islands Gross Domestic Product (GDP) when in the full exportation phase.
“We are surprised that with the current state of our economy that a company that has been granted a Mining Lease and has been mining for a year is being refused to export their ores for reasons that we believe are not according to law.
“We have complied with all requirements under the law so it is very concerning to us that this situation is preventing more employment opportunities for Solomon Islanders and much needed tax revenues into our government coffers.
“It is unfortunate that every citizen and the landowner and our loyal suppliers have to suffer for this poor governance.
“Axiom is left with no other option but to have the matter rectified in the courts,” Tagini said.