ASX-listed base metals hopeful, Blackstone Minerals, has purchased another diamond drill rig to accelerate its exploration at the emerging Ban Chang nickel prospect where it is looking to take the closed down Ta Khoa processing plant out of mothballs. The third rig in the company’s armoury will pepper Ban Chang with new holes after its first round of drilling there encountered sulphide nickel mineralisation.
ASX-listed base metals hopeful, Blackstone Minerals, has purchased another diamond drill rig to accelerate its exploration at the emerging Ban Chang nickel prospect where it is looking to take the closed down Ta Khoa processing plant out of mothballs.
According to the company, the new rig, which will reduce its per metre drilling costs by about 60 per cent versus Australian industry averages, will be used to pepper the exciting Ban Chang prospect after its first round of drilling there encountered sulphide nickel mineralisation over a 1.2km strike.
It will enable Blackstone to fast track drilling along strike and down dip at Ban Chang, where encouraging drill hits to date have included 9.8m going 1.45 per cent nickel, 0.9 per cent copper, 0.08 per cent cobalt and 0.7 grams per tonne PGM from 57.02m down hole. Assays are pending on two other holes.
The company says accelerated drilling at Ban Chang will help supplement a scoping study that is looking at the possibility of downstream processing to produce a nickel sulphate product for the lithium-ion battery industry.
Blackstone plans to release a maiden resource estimate in the current quarter that will initially cover the Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide mineralisation.
The company also said it will continue to assess the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator based on the results of exploration work on both the massive and disseminated sulphide veins.
Drilling at Ban Chang is part of an ongoing campaign targeting regional massive sulphide veins that Blackstone hopes will build the resource inventory at Ta Khoa to supplement the Ban Phuc maiden resource.
Blackstone Managing Director, Scott Williamson said: “Blackstone has made rapid progress over the past few months and we are very excited about the potential of Ban Chang. Our latest assays have confirmed a new zone of high-grade mineralisation which was previously untested at Ban Chang East.”
“As we work towards completing our scoping study this quarter, we have now purchased an additional diamond drill rig to ensure we can progress the project as rapidly as possible as we systematically test our 25 massive sulphide targets.”
Blackstone has also started metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide vein with a view to developing a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry.
Ban Chang is located about 2.5km south-east of the flagship Ban Phuc deposit and the 450,000 tonne per annum nickel processing plant that was only mothballed in 2016. The deposit is emerging as a potential game changer at Ta Khoa and Blackstone says it is already contemplating a further resource update there as soon as possible after the completion of a maiden Ban Phuc resource this quarter.
The company has more than just the Ban Chang string to its bow too with 25 additional massive sulphide vein prospects still to be tested.
If the nickel price holds up, this treasure trove of potential targets may well evolve into a long life feed for the processing plant that produced 20,700t of nickel, 10,100t of copper and 67,000t of cobalt between 2013 and 2016.
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