The Solomon Islands government has retracted a statement issued last week which made implications about the conduct of Australian miner Axiom Resources.
Prospecting licences held by Axiom for the Isobel nickel laterite deposit were rendered invalid by a Solomon Islands Court of Appeal decision last week, drawing the following comment from the Prime Minister’s office.
"With the legal battle now out of the way, the Government, through the Department of Mines, can now start the process of ensuring a reputable mining company develops the nickel project."
Axiom CEO Ryan Mount said last week that the court did not make any adverse findings against the company, suggesting that the statement (which implied disreputable conduct) was issued without the correct clearance.
“Our conversations with the Prime Minister's office have been somewhat apologetic for that and I dare say there will be a clarification," he told the ABC.
"In actual fact, the Government has said they are looking forward to our reapplication which we have already lodged.”
A new statement from the Prime Minister’s office retracted the original statement and made apology to Axiom because it "misrepresented the Prime Minister and the entire Solomon Islands government on the case and… did not reflect the appeal court ruling."
"The press statement carried direct quotes from the Prime Minister himself and this is misleading because the Prime Minister never expressed the government's position on the issue," the statement admitted.
The PM’s office laid blame on Special Secretary to the PM Andrew Muaki, who was said to be the “sole advisor” responsible for the release.