Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX: BSX) announced that it has inked an MOU with Korea’s largest electric vehicle battery cathode manufacturer, Ecopro BM Co Limited.
The company reported that the non-binding MOU outlines an alliance structure whereby Ecopro BM and Blackstone will work in partnership to develop a downstream processing facility in association with Blackstone’s Ta Khoa Nickel Project in northern Vietnam.
The company also announced the plans for its Ta Khoa Nickel Project.
Ecopro is a South Korea-based company engaged in the battery and environment material businesses. It is a world-leader in the high-volume cathode material market and currently Korea’s largest EV battery cathode manufacturer.
Ecopro BM’s major customers include some of the world’s largest battery manufacturers and have the potential to grow into a core material company and leader of the next-generation battery market.
MOU with Ecopro
Blackstone Minerals reported that it has signed an indicative, non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Ecopro BM for lithium ion battery production.
Blackstone reported that the MOU was signed to engage a development partner to provide funding to commercialise the Ta Khoa Nickel Project.
The company reported that Ecopro BM has indicated its willingness to enter into an alliance with Blackstone with a view to formalising a Joint Venture on the downstream processing infrastructure project in association with Blackstone’s Ta Khoa Nickel Project, Vietnam.
BSX said that the intention of the MOU is for the parties to enter into an alliance to form a Joint Venture with the intention to develop a suitable nickel, cobalt, or other battery mineral product for lithium-ion battery manufacturing.
Ta Khoa project
Blackstone’s Ta Khoa Nickel Project is located 160km west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam.
The project includes an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian Standards, Ban Phuc, which is currently under care and maintenance.
The Ban Phuc nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanised underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016. Previous project owners had focused mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc.
Bulk-tonnage disseminated sulfide (DSS) targets exist at Ban Phuc, Ban Khang, Ban Chang, and Ban Khoa.
Next steps for Ta Khoa project
Blackstone reported that it aims to deliver a maiden resource on the disseminated sulfide (DSS) at Ban Phuc over the coming months and investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both massive sulfide veins (MSV) and DSS deposits.
Blackstone announced that it has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa, to provide detail for potential joint venture partners to formalize a binding agreement.
Blackstone has 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.
BSX said that it is also planning 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 reported that it plans to explore both MSV and DSS targets throughout the Ta Khoa project, initially within a 5km radius of the existing processing facility. Blackstone said that it will conduct further geophysics on the MSV and DSS targets and continue its 8,000m maiden drilling campaign.
Blackstone Minerals Managing Director Scott Williamson said: “We are pleased to announce an MOU with Korea’s largest cathode manufacturer. Our Ta Khoa Nickel Project has significant potential to deliver the critical raw materials required for Ecopro’s cathode manufacturing process and meet the ever-increasing demand for high-nickel content cathodes driven by the imminent electric vehicle (EV) revolution.
We look forward to finalising a formal agreement with Ecopro over the coming months. In the meantime, we continue the exploration and development of our flagship Ta Khoa Nickel Project in northern Vietnam.”