Axiom Mining loses Solomon Islands nickel court battle

A SMALL Australian mining company has been stripped of its rights to one of the Pacific's biggest greenfield nickel laterite deposits, after a decision by the Solomon Islands Court of Appeal.

ASX-listed Axiom Mining (ASX code AVQ) has been involved in a five-year battle with Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) Solomon Islands Limited for control of the deposit in Isabel Province.

In a unanimous ruling by three overseas judges, the Solomon Islands Court of Appeal quashed ministerial approval of Axiom's prospecting licences.

The action followed the court's finding that the transfer of land registration to Axiom's landowner partners had not been completed properly and so was invalid.

"It is a setback, but it is not a major or material setback from our point of view," said Axiom Mining's chief executive officer Ryan Mount.