Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX: BSX) has announced an encouraging update from its Ta Khoa Nickel Project in Northern Vietnam.
The company reported the discovery of a new, near surface higher grade zone of nickel sulfide bearing semi-massive sulfide veins (SMSV) at the Ta Khoa Nickel Project called King Cobra, with near surface downhole intervals of up to 60m and visual estimates of up to 20% sulfide mineralisation.
BSX said that the King Cobra discovery includes the first-ever intersection of massive sulfide vein and breccia styles of sulfide mineralisation within the Ban Phuc intrusion which may provide vectors towards the high grade “feeder zone” mineralisation.
The company reported that the new assay results received during the period from the Ban Phuc DSS include the broadest downhole intersections of nickel mineralisation seen to date, including 106m @ 0.45% Ni, and 51.0m @ 0.73% Ni, with higher grade zones of 15.6m @ 1.08% Ni and 18.1m @ 1.37% Ni respectively.
Blackstone said that it is continuing its aggressive exploration program with four drill rigs testing the Ban Phuc disseminated nickel sulfide body, including priority step out drilling of the new King Cobra discovery.
Blackstone has also purchased inhouse electromagnetic (EM) and Induced Polarisation (IP) equipment and has commenced an extensive ground-based geophysical survey of the Ta Khoa project.
Ta Khoa nickel project
Blackstone’s 90%-owned Ta Khoa Nickel Project is located 160km west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam. It includes an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian Standards, currently under care and maintenance.
The Ban Phuc nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanised underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016.
Bulk-tonnage disseminated sulfide (DSS) targets at Ta Khoa project exist at Ban Phuc, Ban Khang, Ban Chang, and Ban Khoa deposits.
Ta Khoa Nickel – PGE project has a combination of large disseminated (DSS) nickel sulfide targets and 25 other prospects, including multiple high-grade massive sulfide vein (MSV) targets.
Drilling at Ban Phuc
The company reported that it has drilled over 4,500 m of diamond core in over 24 holes at the Ban Phuc DSS. BSX said that the disseminated mineralisation has been encountered in drill holes over 1,000m by 500m in area and remains open to the south east and at depth.
The company reported that the Ban Phuc DSS deposit characteristics include thick accumulations of nickel sulfide mineralisation across a significant area of the Ban Phuc ultramafic body; and multiple stacked layers of disseminated mineralisation hosting higher grade intervals;
King Cobra zone
The company announced the discovery of King Cobra zone, hosting thick accumulations of nickel sulfide, metres from surface; massive sulfide vein and breccia textured mineralisation at King Cobra providing exploration vectors to possible high grade “feeder zone” targets; and significant concentrations of precious metals palladium – platinum and gold in all drilling to date from the deposit.
The company announced that the new assay results received from the Ban Phuc DSS include the broadest downhole intersections of nickel mineralisation seen to date.
Highlights include 106m @ 0.45% Ni including 20.2m @ 0.61% Ni and 6m @ 1.16% Ni (hole BP19-14), 51.0m @ 0.71% Ni including 15.7m @ 1.48% Ni (hole BP19-23), and 64.4m @ 0.52% Ni including 15.6m @ 1.08% Ni (hole BP19-07).
BSX reported that all nickel intersections are associated with copper, cobalt and significant platinum, palladium and gold, that combined have returned assays of up to 51.0 m @ 0.44 g/t Pt+Pd+Au, including 18.1m @ 1.01 g/t Pt+Pd+Au.
Updates and future plans
The company announced that it 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 both MSV and DSS deposits.
Blackstone reported that it has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa. The scoping study will provide detail for potential joint venture partners to formalise a binding agreement.
Blackstone has also commenced metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS orebody with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium ion battery industry.
In addition, Blackstone also plans to 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.
Blackstone said that it plans to explore both MSV and DSS targets throughout the project, initially within a 5km radius of the existing processing facility. Blackstone reported that it will conduct further geophysics on the MSV and DSS targets and continue its 8,000m maiden drilling campaign.
BSX said that it plans to report the initial results from the King Cobra discovery and the ongoing drill out at Ban Phuc over the coming weeks.
Blackstone Mineral’s Managing Director Scott Williamson said: “Blackstone is very pleased with the rapid progress and exciting results to date that are outlining a near surface, large scale disseminated Nickel – PGE deposit at Ban Phuc.
We feel that the discovery of the King Cobra zone is a step change for exploration of the deposit. A substantial thickness of disseminated and potentially higher-grade Nickel – PGE mineralisation within a few metres of surface may prove to be a bulk mineable opportunity”.