Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX: BSX | OTCQB: BLSTF | FRA: B9S) has reported continued drilling success including top intercepts of 127.6m at 1.17% nickel, 0.22% copper, 0.02% cobalt, and 0.24 grams per tonne PGE at King Cobra and Ban Chang deposits, part of its flagship Ta Khoa Nickel-Cu-PGE project in Vietnam.
The company said that the successful infill and extensional drilling results at KCZ delivered some of the best intercepts to date and upgraded confidence in the Ban Phuc Disseminated Sulfide (DSS) deposit.
Significant intercepts from current reporting at KCZ and Ban Phuc include 127.2m @ 0.38% Ni, 0.03% Cu, 0.01% Co & 0.09g/t PGE1 from 20.65m incl. 14.45m @ 0.77% Ni, 0.15% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.18g/t PGE from 122.7m; 127.6m @ 1.17% Ni, 0.22% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.24g/t PGE from 14m incl. 85m @ 1.36% Ni, 0.27% Cu, 0.03% Co & 0.25g/t PGE from 22m; 96.1m @ 0.83% Ni, 0.17% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.26g/t PGE from 18.4m incl. 50.2m @ 1.05% Ni, 0.2% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.4g/t PGE from 45m; and 166.1m @ 0.75% Ni, 0.16% Cu, 0.01% Co & 0.29g/t PGE from 6.3m incl. 79.8m @ 1.12% Ni, 0.27% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.45g/t PGE from 10.5m.
Significant intercepts from current reporting at Ban Chang include 5.65m @ 1.04% Ni, 1.16% Cu, 0.05% Co & 0.71g/t PGE from 55.1m incl. 1.92m @ 2.1% Ni, 2.56% Cu, 0.11% Co & 1.46g/t PGE from 58.9m; and 16.3m @ 0.58% Ni, 0.37% Cu, 0.04% Co & 0.3g/t PGE from 54m incl. 0.55m @ 1.49% Ni, 1.63% Cu, 0.09% Co & 0.49g/t PGE from 62.9m.
Blackstone reported that it has commenced drilling at the recently announced high priority Ni-Cu- PGE target at the King Snake prospect. The company said that nine active drill rigs are continuing activity at KCZ, Ban Chang, Ta Cuong, and Ban Khoa.
BSX said that further drill programs are being designed to systematically assess 25 massive sulfide opportunities identified by the Company in support of a Ta Khoa Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS).
Ta Khoa project
The Ta Khoa Nickel-Copper-PGE Project is located 160 km west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam.
The Ta Khoa 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 450ktpa processing plant. Previous project owners focused mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc.
The Ban Phuc nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanised underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016. At Ban Phuc massive sulfide vein (MSV), previous owners had successfully mined 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.
Since commencing maiden drilling in August 2019, Blackstone has made significant progress at Ta Khoa, drilling over 9,000 m of diamond core in more than 47 holes into the Ban Phuc DSS deposit and the highly prospective King Cobra discovery zone.
The Ban Phuc DSS deposit underpins the Company’s maiden Indicated Mineral Resource of 44.3Mt @ 0.52% Ni for 229kt Ni and recently announced Scoping Study which demonstrates an economically robust nickel sulfide project to produce downstream Nickel: Cobalt: Manganese (NCM) precursor products for the Lithium-ion battery industry.
Previous project owners focused mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc. At Ban Phuc MSV, previous owners had successfully mined 975kt of high-grade ore at average grades of 2.4% Ni & 1.0% Cu from an average vein width of 1.3m.
Blackstone reported that it plans to explore both MSV and DSS targets throughout the project, initially within a 5km radius of the existing processing facility. Blackstone said that it plans to conduct further geophysics on the MSV and DSS targets and continue its maiden drilling campaign.
Scoping Study released
Blackstone Minerals had recently released a Scoping Study for its flagship Ta Khoa Project. The Scoping Study which features annual production of ~12.7ktpa Ni over an 8.5-year project life is underpinned by the Ban Phuc DSS deposit, and has robust economics that generates ~US$665m in NPV8, a pre-tax project level IRR of 45%, and a capital payback period of 2.5 years (from first production).
Drilling at Ta Khoa
Blackstone had recently commenced infill and extensional drilling at the Ta Khoa project. The drilling targeted extensions at the King Cobra Discovery Zone (KCZ) and was designed to infill and increase the geological confidence of the Ban Phuc DSS deposit. The initial drill holes at Ban Chang had intersected high‐grade massive sulfide nickel over a 1.2km strike length.
Following the outcomes of the Ta Khoa Project Scoping Study, Blackstone was successful with additional infill and extensional drilling at KCZ. The Company said that its strategy is to delineate a maiden resource at Ban Chang to supplement ongoing studies.
The company announced that the infill and extensional drilling at Blackstone’s Ta Khoa project has returned broad and consistent mineralisation along with some of the best intercepts to date.
Drilling returns best intercepts to date
BSX said that the drilling at the Ta Khoa project returned some of the best intercepts to date. Blackstone said that KCZ in particular has the potential to add shallow, high-grade tonnes to the Ban Phuc DSS maiden resource estimate and hence significant upside to the value of the project.
KCZ and Ban Phuc
Significant intercepts at KCZ and Ban Phuc include BP20-30 127.2m @ 0.38% Ni, 0.03% Cu, 0.01% Co & 0.09g/t PGE1 from 20.65m incl. 14.45m @ 0.77% Ni, 0.15% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.18g/t PGE from 122.7m; BP20-31 21.3m @ 0.71% Ni, 0.09% Cu, 0.01% Co & 0.18g/t PGE from 48.7m incl. 11m @ 0.95% Ni, 0.13% Cu, 0.01% Co & 0.24g/t PGE from 59m; BP20-32 149.2m @ 0.42% Ni, 0.06% Cu, 0.01% Co & 0.08g/t PGE from 3m; BP20-34 127.6m @ 1.17% Ni, 0.22% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.24g/t PGE from 14m incl. 85m @ 1.36% Ni, 0.27% Cu, 0.03% Co & 0.25g/t PGE from 22m; BP20-35 96.1m @ 0.83% Ni, 0.17% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.26g/t PGE from 18.4m incl. 50.2m @ 1.05% Ni, 0.2% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.4g/t PGE from 45m; and BP20-39 166.1m @ 0.75% Ni, 0.16% Cu, 0.01% Co & 0.29g/t PGE from 6.3m incl. 79.8m @ 1.12% Ni, 0.27% Cu, 0.02% Co & 0.45g/t PGE from 10.5m.
Significant intercepts at Ban Chang include: BC20-16 5.65m @ 1.04% Ni, 1.16% Cu, 0.05% Co & 0.71g/t PGE from 55.1m incl. 1.92m @ 2.1% Ni, 2.56% Cu, 0.11% Co & 1.46g/t PGE from 58.9m; BC20-19 15.8m @ 0.47% Ni, 0.25% Cu, 0.03% Co & 0.21g/t PGE from 41.8m incl. 1.9m @ 1.21% Ni, 0.48% Cu, 0.07% Co & 0.7g/t PGE from 55.6m; BC20-20 3.85m @ 0.81% Ni, 0.57% Cu, 0.05% Co & 0.36g/t PGE from 46.0m incl. 1.7m @ 1.45% Ni, 1.08% Cu, 0.08% Co & 0.60g/t PGE from 48.15m; and BC 20-26 16.3m @ 0.58% Ni, 0.37% Cu, 0.04% Co & 0.3g/t PGE from 54m incl. 0.55m @ 1.49% Ni, 1.63% Cu, 0.09% Co & 0.49g/t PGE from 62.9m
Ta Khoa PFS
The company reported that it is now advancing the Ta Khoa Project through to a Pre-Feasibility Study, which will contemplate the option to mine higher grade MSV deposits within the Ta Khoa district.
BSX said that the discovery of higher grade MSV deposits have the potential to reduce upfront capital requirements by enabling the Company to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator (450ktpa).
Updates and next steps
Blackstone Minerals delivered a Maiden Resource in Q3, focused initially on the DSS at Ban Phuc. The company said that it continues to investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both MSV and DSS deposits.
Blackstone delivered a Scoping Study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa. The Scoping Study provided details for joint venture partners to formalise the next stage of investment.
BSX said 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. In addition, Blackstone 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 Minerals announced that it proposes to conduct further drilling and associated activities to better define and extend the identified mineralised zones. Currently, Nine active drill rigs are continuing activity at KCZ, Ban Chang, Ta Cuong, and Ban Khoa deposits,
Blackstone Minerals’ Managing Director Scott Williamson said: “Successful infill and extensional drilling at KCZ continues to deliver broad, consistent mineralisation and increases confidence in the compelling metrics presented in our recent Scoping Study.
The drilling results reinforce our view that the project benefits from higher grades of the KCZ which can be accessed in the early years. Blackstone will continue to systematically test our 25 MSV prospects, and a maiden resource at the Company’s first such target, Ban Chang, is being targeted for the first quarter of 2021.
Through the delineation of additional MSV deposits, we see potential to increase annual nickel production and reduce initial capital requirements via a staged approach which would involve Blackstone utilising the existing 450ktpa concentrator at Ta Khoa.”