TOKYO – The development of a large nickel deposit in the Solomon Islands is back to square one this week, as the nation’s highest court ruled that neither of the two firms in Japan and Australia fighting over the discovery were entitled to the license.
The Solomon Islands Court of Appeal on Monday rejected a portion of Sumitomo Metal Mining’s appeal that the country’s government should not have cancelled in 2011 Sumitomo’s license to develop the Isabel nickel laterite discovery.
In the same ruling, the Court of Appeal accepted another portion of the appeal by revoking Axiom Mining’s current license for the Isabel site.
The ruling also returns the site of the Isabel discovery to government ownership without restoring Sumitomo’s earlier license.
Japanese mining giant Sumitomo and tiny Australian explorer Axiom Mining have been fighting over the Isabel discovery since 2011.
Sumitomo won an international tender for prospecting licences in 2010. The licences were cancelled in 2011 and similar rights were later that year awarded to Axiom.
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