A pre-feasibility study (PFS) on Axiom Mining’s Isabel Nickel Project in the Solomon Islands is nearing completion. The study covers the San Jorge and Kolosori deposits and is expected to validate the project’s potential.

Axiom says that 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.

The company is progressing with discussions and negotiations with its strategic partners and recruitment of key personnel has commenced.

San Jorge has previously been subject to many years of exploration by INCO (Vale), including thousands of drill holes and pits in the 1960s and 70s. The geology is very similar to the Kolosori deposit, with historical drilling and feasibility studies indicating the ore body is likely to have similar characteristics especially as to grade and tonnage.

Axiom will be able to mobilise already in-country plant and equipment, as well as benefit from established supply chains and logistics channels. The company also has access to trained and experienced operational personnel for this exploration and development campaign.

Axiom submitted its application for the Kolosori tenement in March 2016. The Solomon Islands Government has indicated it wants to ensure an efficient and proper process be conducted in the re-issuing of the mineral rights over Kolosori. An Environmental Management Plan has also been completed and submitted to 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.

Axiom’s CEO Ryan Mount 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.”

Meanwhile, Axiom has also appointed Ken Stein as its new executive general manager, in charge of mining operations in Solomon Islands. He has more than 40 years’ experience in mining, with a career beginning with BHP in Australia and then to East Timor as engineering manager for Billiton.

He was the chief operating officer for European Nickel and Toledo Mining managing their nickel interests in the Philippines, including the Burong and Ipilan nickel laterite sites.

Ryan Mount said, “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.”