REFILE-Axiom wins long battle to develop Solomons nickel
(Files wider, fixes word first par)
* Axiom says wins Solomon Islands nickel mine court battle
* Court win clears way for mine development within 2 years
* Sth Pacific littered with problem mine projects
By James Regan
SYDNEY, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Tiny Australian prospector Axiom Mining has won a three-year court battle against Japanese giant Sumitomo Metal Mining to exploit a major nickel discovery in the South Pacific's Solomon Islands left idle for more than half a century.
Axiom says the ruling in the Solomon Islands High Court could lead to the nickel deposit, spanning the islands of San Jorge and Santa Isabel, finally being developed within two years, just as nickel prices soar due to an ore export ban by major supplier Indonesia in January.
"We can now re-commence our exploration of the tenement with our partners," said Axiom's Australian managing director Ryan Mount, who moved to the Solomon Islands to be close to the project.
Geologists have been aware of the Isabel deposit since 1957 but little development work has been done because of ownership changes and legal wrangling. Continuación...