Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd (SMM) will withdraw from the nickel exploration projects it has been implementing in the Solomon Islands through its subsidiary, SMM Solomon Limited (SMMS).

SMMS started its acquisition of prospecting licences and exploration activities in 2005 and completed the activities in the prospecting licence areas of Choiseul province and Isabel province in 2014. It then applied for the mining leases in three areas.

SMMS brought legal proceedings against Australia’s Axiom Mining and others regarding the international tender areas in Isabel province because the rights awarded to SMMS were cancelled. These proceedings lasted six years until March 2017 and ended with neither SMMS nor Axiom being granted the rights over the International Tender Areas.

In a statement issued this week, SMM said during this time, the nickel price tumbled and forecasts predict continued harsh market conditions into the future, and the business circumstances of the Solomon Exploration Project changed significantly.

“As the result of our comprehensive review of such business circumstances, the final judgment in the legal proceedings and other factors, SMMS concluded that it is difficult for SMMS to implement the project that SMMS had sought to realise by integrating SMMS’ own areas with the international tender areas.

“SMMS has decided to withdraw from the Solomon Exploration Project. As such SMMS will withdraw from all of its pending applications for mining leases regarding SMMS’ own areas and SMMS will cease operation of the company except for those remaining matters arising from the withdrawal.

“We deeply appreciate the support and cooperation of the government and the landowners and residents of Solomon Islands for the Solomon Exploration Project and other related matters.

“Going forward, SMM shall continue to work towards securing new nickel resources through projects in the Philippines and Indonesia and other such activities.”