Blackstone Minerals Ltd (ASX:BSX) continues to enhance plans to restart Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in Vietnam with massive sulphide vein (MSV) nickel intersected within broad disseminated nickel sulphide (DSS) mineralisation at King Cobra discovery.
An intersection of 0.55 metres of MSV mineralisation has been received within a 2.5-metre wide tremolite-rich dyke at King Cobra Zone (KCZ).
This was within a broader 58-metre downhole intersection of DSS mineralisation.
Plan View showing Ban Phuc DSS drill hole collar locations and King Cobra Zone.
Likely to “improve economics”
The result prompted Blackstone’s managing director Scott Williamson to state: “This is the most significant intersection of MSV within the Ban Phuc deposit outside of the known and previously mined Ban Phuc MSV.
“The King Cobra discovery is looking increasingly likely to significantly improve the economics of a restart of the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project.”
Shares have been up as much as 20% in early trade to 14.5 cents.
Blackstone’s drilling of King Cobra continues to deliver shallow intersections of high-grade DSS mineralisation including 39 metres at 1.1% nickel and 28 metres at 1.2% nickel from near-surface.
Summary of significant results from the Ban Phuc DSS drilling of the King Cobra Zone (KCZ) and Ban Duoi Zone (BDZ).
King Cobra remains open down dip and along strike to the northwest and southeast and has been traced with drilling over 200 metres of strike length.
The company is continuing its aggressive drilling program with four drill rigs operating.
Two rigs are continuing on priority step-out drilling testing for potentially significant expansions to the Ban Phuc DSS ore body and the down dip feeder zone target at KCZ.
Blackstone intersected 0.55 metres of MSV mineralisation within a 2.5-metres zone of tremolite-rich dyke within the broader 58-metres down hole intersection of disseminated sulphide at King Cobra Zone.
Since announcing an option agreement in May 2019, Blackstone has made strong progress at Ta Khoa, drilling in excess of 12,000 metres of diamond core in more than 65 holes into the Ban Phuc DSS deposit and King Cobra discovery zone.
Downstream processing options
The company is well advanced with an initial scoping study evaluating mining and processing options, including potential in-country downstream processing to deliver high-value nickel sulphate into Asia’s rapidly expanding electric vehicle (EV) industry.
A recent MoU with Korea’s largest and the world’s second-largest EV battery cathode manufacturer, Ecopro BM Co Limited, represents a significant step toward making this a reality.
Initial geological modelling of Blackstone’s drilling, combined with more than 60,000 metres in 381 holes drilled by previous owners, is starting to reveal the potential extents of the Ban Phuc DSS nickel-PGE deposit.
Disseminated mineralisation has been encountered in drill holes over 1,000 metres by 500 metres in area and remains open along strike to the northwest and southeast and down dip to the northeast.
Ta Khoa dome geology is prospective for multiple magmatic nickel sulphide deposits.
Preliminary interpretations and drill results reveal several encouraging characteristics that suggest the potential for a large tonnage disseminated sulphide deposit at Ban Phuc.
These factors may make the deposit amenable to bulk mining techniques employed at large-scale nickel mines in Australia and elsewhere in the world.
Blackstone aims to deliver a maiden resource on the DSS at Ban Phuc over the coming months and investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on the MSV and DSS deposits.
Scoping study work
The company is working on a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa which will provide detail for potential joint venture partners to formalise a binding agreement.
Metallurgical testing has started on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry.
Ta Khoa project location in northern Vietnam.
In addition, Blackstone will investigate the potential to develop downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product to supply Asia’s growing lithium-ion battery industry.
The Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project includes an existing modern nickel mine which has been under care and maintenance since 2016 due to falling nickel prices.
Existing infrastructure includes an internationally designed 450,000 tonnes per annum processing plant.