Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. said Wednesday it has obtained the right to explore three potential nickel mining sites in the Solomon Islands.

The Japanese company, which is already exploring several other nickel deposits in the Solomon Islands, said in a statement that the successful bid will allow it to start feasibility studies on the new sites.

Sumitomo has said it aims to raise its total nickel production to 100,000 tons a year by 2013, compared with its current capacity of about 69,000 tons.

The company said it hopes ample deposits in the Solomon Islands could help it to achieve its longer-term goal of a capacity of 150,000 tons.