Blackstone Minerals Ltd (ASX:BSX) has hit a new two-year high after intersecting massive sulphide in four maiden drill holes at Ban Chang, which is part of its Ta Khoa Nickel-Copper-Platinum Group Elements (PGE) Project in Vietnam.
The drill hole BC20-02 at Ban Chang has delineated a 200-metre-long zone of high-grade nickel-copper-PGE as the company continues to increase the potential of the past producing Ta Khoa project.
Shares have been up more than 20% to 29.5 cents, a new high of more than two years.
The diamond drill holes were drilled more than 1.2 kilometres apart and along strike within a 1.2-kilometre-long massive sulphide target zone defined by high priority EM plates.
Hole BC20-02 returned 4.1 metres at 0.92% nickel, 0.69% copper, 0.05% cobalt and 0.26 g/t PGE from 85.9 metres, including 2.3 metres at 1.6% nickel, 1.09% copper, 0.09% cobalt and 0.43 g/t PGE from 85.9 metres and 1.8 metres at 2.01% nickel, 1.27% copper, 0.12% cobalt and 0.53 g/t PGE from 86.4 metres.
Blackstone is targeting massive sulphide vein (MSV) prospects analogous to the Ban Phuc MSV, where previous owners mined 975,000 tonnes of high-grade ore at average grades of 2.4% nickel and 1% copper from an average vein width of 1.3 metres for 3.5 years between 2013 and 2016.
“Potential for bulk underground mining”
Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said: “Our latest assays confirm further high-grade mineralisation at Ban Chang.
“We continue to demonstrate strong potential for a bulk underground mining scenario at Ban Chang which could be significantly larger scale than the previously mined Ban Phuc massive sulphide underground mine.
“At Ban Phuc, the previous owners successfully mined a 1.3 metres wide MSV at much lower nickel prices than today.
“We are seeing broader widths and significant by-products which could lend to potentially better economics than when this mine previously operated.”
Ban Chang prospect with 1.2 kilometre long EM plates and four maiden drill holes
A recently purchased third drill rig will follow the geophysics crew throughout the Ta Khoa nickel sulphide district, testing high priority EM targets generated from 25 MSV prospects including King Snake, Ban Khoa, Ban Chang and Ta Cuong.
Williamson said the in-house geophysics crew was continuing to test for further massive sulphide mineralisation at the new target, Ta Cuong.
He said: “Ban Chang and Ta Cuong are the first of our 25 MSV targets to be tested throughout the Ta Khoa district, leaving plenty of upside for adding high-grade feed to what looks like a bulk open pit mining scenario at Ban Phuc and the KCZ.”
Drilling is also continuing with Blackstone’s largest drill rig testing the King Cobra Discovery zone (KCZ) and Blackstone’s two smaller drill rigs at Ban Chang East and Ban Chang West.
Next steps for Ta Khoa
Blackstone Minerals aims to deliver a maiden resource later this quarter, focused initially on the DSS at Ban Phuc and continues to investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both MSV and DSS deposits.
The company has started a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa which is also expected to be announced this quarter and will provide details for potential partners to formalise the next stage of investment.
Metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit has commenced with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry.
In addition, the company 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.