Axiom Mining has entered into a strategic partnership with Anitua Limited for the Isabel Nickel Project. Anitua is providing Aus$5 million in loan funding to advance development of the project.

Anitua is one of Papua New Guinea’s most experienced companies and is a highly experienced exploration and mining services contractor in the Pacific region. Its clients include ExxonMobil, InterOil, Newcrest (Lihir Gold) and Ramu NiCo.

The Anitua Group was founded by a group of Lihir Island landowners in 1989 and currently employs more than 3500 people in PNG. It provides a breadth of services with the ability to provide complete end-to-end solutions in areas including contract mining, road work and civil construction, mine site support and earth moving, and mining training services.

In addition to the unsecured loan of Aus$5 million, the parties have also agreed to negotiate arms’ length commercial terms for a range of services to be provided by Anitua for the Isabel project. This may include exploration drilling, construction, camp management and contract mining.

The loan is repayable either in cash or in fully paid ordinary shares in Axiom at $0.02 per share, at the sole discretion of Axiom by no later than July 7, 2015.

Axiom’s CEO Ryan Mount says, “This partnership is a strong endorsement of Axiom’s strategy to develop the nickel resources of Solomon Islands in a respectful and culturally sensitive manner. It gives Axiom immediate access to funds to achieve project milestones, while Anitua gets the opportunity to provide the Isabel Nickel Project with contract mining services at market rates.

“There is a natural synergy between Axiom and Anitua - both companies are experienced in working with local communities in the Pacific, with a focus on collaboration and capacity building to ensure successful long-term operations,” he adds.

Meanwhile, following the Solomon Islands High Court dismissing in September Sumitomo’s claims, Axiom has now being awarded Aus$4.7 million in court costs. The company will be entitled to recover the costs upon obtaining a favourable judgment in the appeal lodged by Sumitomo in the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands, which will be heard by a panel of three Commonwealth judges.

Axiom expects to be notified this month of a hearing date for the appeal. Sumitomo is to provide the Court with an irrevocable and unconditional bank guarantee with a commercial bank in Solomon Islands by January 16 for the full sum of SBD$29.3 million.

It is also required to provide to the court with another irrevocable and unconditional bank guarantee with a commercial bank in Solomon Islands for the sum of US$177,200 as security for Axiom’s costs of the appeal. Axiom remains assured of the validity of its rights and will respond to the forthcoming appeal.

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