CHIEF executive officer of Axiom Mining Ryan Mount last night welcomed a High Court ruling that recognised his company’s lease over the Kolosori land, site of the controversial Isabel nickel prospect.
Commissioner John Brown has ruled that AxiomKB’s lease over the Kolosori land and its Prospecting Licence over the same area are valid—a clear win for Axiom, the Government and landowners.
Mr Mount said:
“This judgment vindicates Axiom’s assertions that we have always acted correctly and with integrity.
“With Axiom KB’s Prospecting Licence and registered lease recognised, we can now re-commence our exploration of the tenement with our landowner partners, the Kolosori and Bungusule landowners.”
Mr Mount said Axiom appreciates the Solomon Islands Government and its landowner partners’ commitment and support during this lengthy, and often exhausting process.
“I congratulate you all on such a big effort,” the CEO said.
He said Axiom, their landowner partners, and the Solomon Islands Government have stood shoulder to shoulder in a litigation battle against Sumitomo since 2011 over the nickel deposits on Santa Isabel Island.
AxiomKB, Axiom’s joint venture company with the landowners, was awarded a Prospecting Licence for the tenement in 2011, and had started exploration activities when they were stopped by an injunction brought on by a civil claim by Sumitomo.
Chair of the Kolosori Trustees Mr Elliot Cortez said:
“We are very pleased that we have been able to successfully defend our rights—it has been a long, difficult journey for us.
“We have had to endure doubt and uncertainty as Sumitomo tried to cause internal disharmony amongst us.
“But now that is in the past and we are looking forward to a bright future.”
He said they look forward to working closely with Axiom to develop the nickel deposit as well as hopefully constructing a mine.
“We thank Axiom for standing by us through this difficult time,” Mr Cortez said.
Caretaker Minister for Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification Moses Garu also welcomed the ruling, saying it demonstrated that the Solomon Islands Government had acted lawfully in awarding the Prospecting Licence to Axiom.
“We are glad to have Axiom back on the land and look forward to the results of their exploration in developing the world-class Isabel nickel deposit,” he said.
“This development will benefit not just the local landowners, but the nation through the payment of royalties, skills development, and job and supplier opportunities—we hope to receive a mining lease application for this project from Axiom in the not too distant future.”