Axiom Mining has received an updated JORC-compliant resource at the Isabel Nickel Project in the Solomon Islands which defines the first five years of nickel production.

At Kolosori tenement the high-grade saprolite resource tonnage doubled to 3.9 million dry tonnes @ 1.7% nickel. The limonite resource increased to 8.4 million tonnes @ 1.0% nickel and 0.11% cobalt.

Drilling and the upgraded resource validates historical data and highlights high grade extensions of saprolite. Axiom will continue to upgrade the resource estimate when drilling recommences in early 2016.

The resource upgrade follows the addition of 527 drill holes from the phase 2 drilling completed since the previous mineral resource announcement on September 30, 2015. The broad-spaced drilling undertaken in phase 2 tends to increase estimation smoothing, which means higher grade zones will be better defined with further infill drilling.

The ASX-listed company says site infrastructure development is progressing and it remains on track to meet customer requirements for the first shipment of ore by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

Axiom’s CEO Ryan Mount said, “We have now successfully defined a minimum of the first five years of production and the significant tonnage increase in this resource estimate demonstrates the potential of this world-class asset.

“Global nickel demand continues to grow, especially for good quality laterite ore in the Pacific yet few new projects are development ready. This estimate is another milestone that progresses the Isabel Nickel Project closer towards meeting that demand.”

The Kolosori Prospecting Licence on Santa Isabel Island is 80% owned by Axiom with the remaining 20% held by local landowners. The same ownership structure applies to the South San Jorge tenement on nearby San Jorge Island.

The deposits drilled and defined by Axiom so far are wholly contained within the Kolosori tenement.

Both areas at Santa Isabel and San Jorge were explored extensively by INCO in the 1960s and 1970s using test pitting, drilling and auger sampling methods to define nickel laterite deposits of potential economic interest.

INCO completed some feasibility studies and in the 1990s Kaiser Engineering completed further feasibility studies and metallurgical test work.

The Solomon Islands archipelago is at the boundary of the Australian and Pacific continental plates, with Santa Isabel and San Jorge Islands part of a linear NW-SE trending chain of islands within the New Georgia Group and adjacent to an active volcanic forearc region.