ASX-listed Blackstone Minerals has whipped out yet another high-priority prospect from a seemingly endless production line of brownfields exploration targets at its historic Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGMs project about 160km west of Hanoi in Vietnam. The company says its internal geophysics work came up trumps again identifying the new King Snake prospect, located just 1.5km north-east of its flagship Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide deposit.
ASX-listed Vietnam base metals player, Blackstone Minerals, has whipped out yet another high-priority prospect from a seemingly endless production line of brownfields exploration targets at its historic Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGMs project about 160km west of Hanoi.
The company says its internal geophysics work came up trumps again identifying the new King Snake prospect, located just 1.5km north-east of its mothballed Ban Phuc processing plant and flagship Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide deposit, or “DSS”.
As part of its recently released scoping study, Perth-based Blackstone unveiled maiden indicated mineral resource numbers for the Ban Phuc DSS of 44.3 million tonnes going 0.52 per cent nickel for 229,000 tonnes of contained nickel. An additional resource estimate of 14.3 million tonnes grading 0.35 per cent nickel for 50,000 tonnes of contained nickel was classified in the inferred category.
During the Ban Phuc drill-out, the company also discovered the high-grade King Cobra Zone, where drilling continues.
According to Blackstone, the King Snake prospect is analogous to the Ban Phuc massive sulphide vein, or “MSV” orebody that was successfully mined by the previous owner, Asian Mineral Resources.
The Toronto-based company produced 20,700 tonnes of nickel, 10,100 tonnes of copper and 67,000 tonnes of cobalt from 975,000 tonnes of Ban Phuc ore averaging grades of 2.4 per cent nickel and one per cent copper from 2013 to 2016.
Last month’s much-anticipated scoping study put out by Blackstone on the possible resurrection of Ta Khoa envisaged a base-case production scenario for the Ban Phuc DSS of 12,700 tonnes of nickel per annum over an initial projected life of mine of 8.5 years.
A CAPEX figure and pre-production capital payback period of US$314 million and 2.5 years, respectively, were estimated for the mooted development. The mining and processing operation, should it proceed, was also predicted to spit out average annual free cash flows before tax of approximately US$179 million a year.
Blackstone Minerals Managing Director, Scott Williamson said: “Blackstone’s in-house geophysics team has generated our best target to date at King Snake. King Snake is located down-plunge of historic nickel-copper-PGM intercepts, and we look forward to drill-testing this exciting new high-grade target over the coming weeks.”
“Based on geological similarities and historical results, we believe it has the potential to deliver similar results to the Ban Phuc MSV but with significant PGM credits. We continue to target high-grade ore for our staged CAPEX strategy to utilise the existing 450,000-tonnes-per-annum concentrator in the early years of the mine life.”
According to Blackstone, drilling carried out at King Snake by earlier owners did not vector in on electromagnetic conductors and that its geophysics crew now intends to use EM to refine the sulphide targets at King Snake for planned follow-up drilling.
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