13/08/2020 - 16:42

Blackstone beefs up drilling fleet in Vietnam nickel hunt

13/08/2020 - 16:42

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ASX-listed base metals developer, Blackstone Minerals, has further strengthened its drilling and geophysics armoury on the ground in Vietnam as it ramps up exploration at its 90 per cent-owned historic Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGM project 160km west of Hanoi. The company has added a second geophysics crew and three drill rigs to its fleet, effectively doubling its exploration capacity.

ASX-listed base metals developer, Blackstone Minerals, has further strengthened its drilling and geophysics armoury on the ground in Vietnam as it ramps up exploration at its 90 per cent-owned historic Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGM project 160km west of Hanoi. The company has added a second geophysics crew and three drill rigs to its fleet, effectively doubling its exploration capacity.

Blackstone’s geophysics programs have been very effective at generating nickel sulphide targets and the new geophysics crew will help expedite the process of identifying additional targets for follow-up drilling.

In a sign that Blackstone is getting serious about Ta Khoa, it now owns four of the six drill rigs that are churning away at the project.

Three rigs are drilling out the Ban Chang prospect, testing massive sulphide vein targets, and three are testing down-dip extensions of the high-grade King Cobra discovery zone at the Ban Phuc prospect.

Interestingly, Blackstone’s first four diamond holes at Ban Chang all intersected massive sulphide nickel mineralisation over a 1.2km strike length.

An initial resource estimate for the Ta Khoa project is due this quarter, with its company-owned rigs affording Blackstone the option of accelerating the drilling of new targets and completing infill drilling to help fast-track the tabling of future resource updates.

Blackstone Minerals Managing Director, Scott Williamson said: “Blackstone is pleased to announce that we have doubled our exploration capacity to allow us to accelerate our exploration program to rapidly unlock what’s shaping up to be a world-class nickel sulphide district at Ta Khoa.”

The company is on the hunt for massive sulphide vein prospects analogous to the Ban Phuc deposit at Ta Khoa. Previous owners of the Ban Phuc mine produced 20,700 tonnes of nickel, 10,100t of copper and 67,000t of cobalt from 975,000t of ore averaging 2.4 per cent nickel and one per cent copper from an average vein width of 1.3m between 2013 and 2016.

Blackstone’s exploration activity since then points to a potentially bulk mineable deposit that could be up to 20m wide and beyond, significantly changing the game when compared to the previous operation that was closed down in 2016 due to the low prevailing nickel price of the day.

Helpfully, the nickel price has hiked by around 75 per cent since 2016.

Previous owners Asian Mineral Resources invested about US$136 million in capital to build the mine and generated about US$213 million in revenue during the 3.5-year period of falling nickel prices.

Blackstone’s maiden drill holes at Ban Chang returned notable intersections including 4.1m going 0.92 per cent nickel, 0.69 per cent copper, 0.05 per cent cobalt and 0.26 grams per tonne PGMs from 85.9m, 5.2m at 0.66 per cent nickel, 0.73 per cent copper, 0.04 per cent cobalt and 0.79 g/t PGMs from 58.0m and 9.8m at 1.45 per cent nickel, 0.9 per cent copper, 0.08 per cent cobalt and 0.70 g/t PGMs from 57.05m.

Blackstone owns the former operation’s processing plant outright which is a real ace up its sleeve – and it was only built in 2013 and mothballed in 2016, which means it has seen very little work.

 

Is your ASX listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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