Pacific Nickel Mines has received development consent from the Environment and Conservation Division of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment for the Kolosori Nickel Project.

The approval marks a step ahead in granting a mining lease for the project, which is expected early next year.

Pacific Nickel said that the development consent follows completion of a workshop and consultation with various government departments, landowners, and stakeholders to review the firm’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.

The approval is subject to various conditions including the submission of an Environmental Management Plan prior to starting project construction.

Pacific Nickel CEO Geoff Hiller said: “Receiving the development consent is a positive endorsement from the Government for the development of the Kolosori Project.

“We are now focused on the granting of the Mining Lease while we complete the definitive study feasibility. We remain committed to fast tracking the Project, which is expected to benefit all stakeholders.”

The Kolosori Nickel Project is 80% owned by Pacific Nickel, with the balance 20% held by landowners.

Based on independent scoping study for the development, the project will be shallow open pit mining operation and eliminates the need for processing or tailings dams.

The project is expected to receive mining lease early next year and start production in late 2022.

The project is expected to reach production target of 6.23m tonnes at 1.5% Ni for 93,450t of contained nickel.

With an estimated capital cost of $18-$20m, the project is planned to start production in late 2022.

Pacific Nickel is currently preparing a definitive feasibility study for the project, with completion planned in Q1 2022.

Early works programme is scheduled for completion by the end of February 2022.

Meanwhile, in another recent development, Guardian reported that Bintan Mining owes millions in unpaid taxes and royalties to the Solomon Islands.