It was a David and Goliath duel which saw Axiom Mining slay global giant Sumitomo to win control of one of the largest untapped nickel deposits globally.

After running into a further bout of interference, Axiom’s control over the disputed acreage has been confirmed.

Axiom shares (ASX:AVQ) surged by more than 50 per cent at one stage Monday before edging back to trade ahead 24 per cent at 18c  as it came out of a trading halt after the Solomon Islands ticked off its application for key mining leases.

Ending serial delays, the company is now hiring up a development team while sorting out the funding needed to get a mine up and running. The capital cost will be only modest since it is accessing shallow ore which lies close to the shore.

The chief executive, Ryan Mount, reckons he will need $12-20 million to get the mine up and running – which is likely to be borrowed from a buyer of output from the mine, with the funding linked to an offtake agreement.

“We can secure capital far more efficiently now we have these approvals in place,” he said, indicating that there is likely to be little need to turn to shareholders or to the sharemarket for fresh funds.

Axiom Mining shares (ASX:AVQ) over the past three months.
Axiom Mining shares (ASX:AVQ) over the past three months.

“We do feel we have turned the corner in a number of ways,” he told Stockhead. “It has taken more than two years [since concluding litigation with Sumitomo] and now we have cleared the decks.”

Along with gaining a mining lease over acreage on San Jorge island as well as winning exploration leases over the nearby Kolosori tenement area, Axiom has also been awarded an extension to its acreage, winning access to an area held previously by Sumitomo.

“This is a complete reconfiguration of the business,” Axiom’s Mount said, given the significantly enhanced acreage now granted to his company.

With the necessary approvals in place, the first ore could be mined as soon as the March quarter of 2019, Axiom’s Mount said.

Axiom has been awarded mining leases over the San Jorge nickel deposit as well as two nickel licences encompassing both its previously held acreage at Kolosori as well as surrounding acreage held formerly by Sumitomo.

The government’s long awaited decision will allow Axiom to get the necessary mining and development team in place as well as to conclude a structured debt financing to get the mine up and running

The looming start up comes as the Philippines has been closing down some of its nickel mines due to claimed environmental breaches, which has helped push the global price of nickel sharply higher this year, to trade recently at around $US15,000 a tonne, well up from around $US13,000 earlier in the year.

“The nickel price has risen dramatically over the past six to nine months, so the timing is perfect for us,” Axiom’s Mount said.