Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX: BSX) has announced an encouraging update on its Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project in Vietnam.
The company reported that it has commenced drilling regional massive sulfide vein (MSV) targets at its Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project. Blackstone said that it is targeting MSV prospects analogous to the previously mined Ban Phuc MSV.
Blackstone said that its ground-based electromagnetics (EM) geophysics crew recently generated a 1km long massive sulfide target within a 12km long district-scale exploration corridor which the company will test over the coming months.
BSX reported that drilling is ongoing at the King Cobra Discovery zone (KCZ) at depth and a second drill rig has commenced drilling the district-scale massive sulfide targets generated by Blackstone’s in-house geophysics crew.
The company said that the second drill rig will follow the geophysics crew throughout the Ta Khoa nickel sulfide district, testing high priority EM targets generated from 25 MSV prospects including King Snake, Ban Khoa, Ban Chang, and Ban Khang.
Blackstone said that will now systematically explore the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project using modern techniques for broader zones of MSV, initially at the Ban Chang prospect.
The company said that the current Scoping Study is focused on downstream processing to produce nickel sulfate for the lithium-ion battery industry with the maiden resource on track for completion in Q3, CY20.
BSX reported that the downstream processing potential is supported by $6.8 million investment from EcoPro Co Limited, the world’s second largest nickel-rich cathode materials manufacturer, completed in April 2020.
Ta Khoa project
The Ta Khoa Nickel Project is located 160km west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam and includes an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian Standards, which is currently under care and maintenance. Significant prospects include the Ban Phuc DSS deposit, the King Cobra discovery zone (KCZ), King Snake, Ban Khoa, Ban Chang, and Ban Khang.
Historic work at the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project highlights a district of high-grade nickel sulfide targets that have not been tested extensively.
The previous owners had successfully mined Ban Phuc MSV, reporting 975kt of high-grade ore at average grades of 2.4% Ni & 1.0% Cu from an average vein width of 1.3m for 3.5 years between 2013 and 2016, producing 20.7kt Ni, 10.1kt Cu and 0.67kt Co.
Blackstone is now planning to explore both MSV and DSS targets throughout the project, initially within a 5km radius of the existing processing facility.
Drilling at Ta Khoa
The Company had recently commenced drilling massive sulfide vein (MSV) targets at the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project, targeting MSV prospects analogous to the previously mined Ban Phuc MSV.
Blackstone’s in-house geophysics crew had recently generated a 1km long massive sulfide target within a 12km long district-scale exploration corridor. The company said that it will be drill tested over the coming months.
The high priority prospects that are the Company’s initial targets in the next phase of advanced exploration and drill testing include King Snake, Ban Khoa, Ban Chang, Ban Khang, Suoi Phang, and Ban Mong.
King Snake is located 1.5km north-east of the processing facility at the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project. Based on the existing drilling, the known body of mineralisation at King Snake is estimated to be 600m long, 0.2 to 3.0m thick averaging 0.62m wide and 1.79% Ni, 0.7% Cu and 1.14 g/t PGE.
King Snake remains open at depth and to the west. Blackstone reported that it will complete ground-based EM west of King Snake over the coming months to identify zones of potentially broader mineralisation associated with the King Snake MSV.
The Ban Khoa prospect is centred on an ultramafic body adjacent to the Chim Van – Co Muong Fault, approximately 1.5km north of the Ban Phuc deposit.
The Ban Khoa dunite averaged 0.15-0.20% nickel across the entire 90-150m wide section. The best intersections were in cumulate layers encountered at the base of the dunite, with 25m grading 0.80% nickel, including 10m of 1.16% nickel as disseminated sulfides (DSS).
Blackstone announced that it will conduct ground-based EM at Ban Khoa over the coming months.
The Ban Chang prospect is located 2.5km south-east of the processing facility and the Ban Phuc deposit, adjacent to the Chim Van – Co Muong fault system.
Historic trench channel samples included 3.9m at 1.07% Ni and 0.95% Cu, including 1.1m at 1.62% Ni and 1.48% Cu; and 1.7m at 1.89% Ni and 0.91% Cu from 62.9m.
Blackstone reported that it has completed an extensive EM survey at Ban Chang and generated a 1km long massive sulfide target which is currently being drill tested.
Ban Khang: The Ban Khang prospect is located approximately 6km north-west of Ban Phuc and is hosted in the Ban Phuc Horizon, adjacent to the Chim Van Co Muong Fault. Tremolite dykes had exposed near surface and in trenches at its 130m strike of gossan had yielded DSS mineralisation assaying up to 0.48% Ni and 0.29% Cu. BSX announced that it will conduct ground-based EM at Ban Khang over the coming months.
Suoi Phang: The Suoi Phang prospect is located at the far west end of the licence area and is hosted within Devonian metasediments of the Ban Mong Formation. No modern surface EM surveying has been conducted on the prospect.
Ban Mong: The Ban Mong prospect is located 1.2km south along strike of the Suoi Phang prospect, with previous intersections of 0.5m of massive sulfide assaying 4.61% Ni, 1.2% Cu and 4.33 g/t Pt+Pd+Au.
Maiden resource in Q3
The company announced that it aims to deliver a maiden resource in Q3, 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 announced that it has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa. The scoping study, also to be announced in Q3, will provide details for joint venture partners to formalise the next stage of investment.
Blackstone reported that it has commenced metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry.
The company said that it 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.
Blackstone said that it plans to conduct a series of geophysical, geochemical, and drilling campaigns on the MSV and DSS targets to better define and extend the known mineralisation and identify new mineralised zones. The company said it plans to continue its maiden drilling campaign.
Blackstone Minerals’ Managing Director Scott Williamson said: “It’s a pleasure to be drilling and exploring our district-scale massive sulfide opportunities throughout the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project.
By using our in-house geophysics crew and our own drill rigs, we can cost effectively explore this globally significant nickel sulfide district using modern geophysical techniques to unlock the significant potential of the world-class geology.
We see potential to increase annual nickel production from the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project through targeting high-grade massive sulfide veins to complement the base load nickel sulfide feed to be potentially mined from the Ban Phuc DSS and King Cobra discovery zone.”