Shares in Axiom Mining (ASX:AVQ) skyrocketed on Wednesday after the Australian miner said it was close to deciding on a partner to take nickel ore supplies from its Isabel nickel project, in the Solomon Islands, in exchange for finance.
The news comes only two weeks after Axiom was granted the mining lease for the project, where the company plans to start digging by December, with its first shipment planned for the first quarter of 2019.
The stock climbed on the news, closing 15 percent higher on Wednesday to 12 Australian cents, even though the company revealed it currently has only $1.3 million in cash.
But Axiom believes that since Isabel is one of the largest nickel laterite deposits in the Pacific, it’d be easy to find a partner to replace a since-expired 2015 off-take agreement and A$15 million ($3.6 million) funding arrangement with trader Gunvor Singapore.
The company has been working with "a number of qualified interested parties" to finalize funding, and a number of potential partners have conducted on-site due diligence over the past year.
The announcement comes at a time when companies are scrambling to grab so-called battery metals projects, including nickel, lithium, cobalt, rare earths and copper, which are key ingredients in the making of electric vehicles.
By 2027, Roskill forecast primary nickel demand in batteries to be above 500,000 mt/year, which is one-third of consumption by the stainless steel sector. Nickel demand is expected to grow even more, surpassing the rise in consumption by stainless steel mills, Roskill said.
The Isabel project is made up of a number of deposits in Isabel Province of Solomon Islands with the key deposits being San Jorge and Kolosori.