Blackstone Minerals has tabled a head turning 375 metre nickel sulphide intercept from recent drilling at its Ban Phuc deposit in Vietnam. The company’s ongoing diamond drilling program is designed to upgrade much of the existing resource to the coveted “measured and indicated” status, however exploration now appears to be also extending the ore system at depth.
Blackstone Minerals has tabled a head turning 375 metre nickel sulphide intercept from recent drilling at the company’s Ban Phuc deposit in Vietnam. The company’s ongoing diamond drilling program is designed to upgrade much of the existing resource to the coveted “measured and indicated” categories however exploration now looks to be also extending the ore system at depth.
Better intercepts from the current drilling program include 374.7m at 0.30 per cent nickel from just 2m below surface and 169m at 0.43 per cent nickel, which includes 10.3m at a healthy 1.13 per cent nickel, 0.18 per cent copper and 0.48 g/t PGE from 62m down-hole.
The Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide system, or “DSS” already boasts a substantial resource in the “indicated and inferred” categories and weighs in at a solid 58.6 million tonnes grading 0.48 per cent nickel. The company says the burgeoning deposit contains over 280,000 tonnes of nickel, with cobalt, copper and PGE credits and will form the primary feed source for the developing operation at Ta Khoa.
Blackstone is currently neck-deep in its pre-feasibility study, or “PFS” for the development of a mining and processing operation for the greater Ta Khoa project area. The mining study comes on the back of a recently tabled PFS for the construction of a refinery to undertake the downstream processing of its high-grade nickel concentrates to manufacture a nickel-cobalt-manganese precursor for use in lithium-ion batteries.
Blackstone Minerals Managing Director Scott Williamson said:“The high tenor of results from the final infill drilling program increases the confidence of the resource at Ban Phuc, and the mine plan that will underpin Blackstone’s UBU PFS.”
“In the relatively short amount of time since acquiring the Ta Khoa Nickel-Copper-PGE Project, Blackstone has been able to define a large, disseminated sulphide deposit which considerably adds to the security of supply for the Company’s vertically integrated downstream refinery.”
Interestingly, the company’s Ban Phuc DSS sits adjacent to Blackstone’s low-mileage, mothballed sulphide processing plant which it picked up as part of its acquisition of the project in 2019. The plant previously operated between 2013 and 2016 and was used to process ores from the high-grade Ban Phuc massive sulphide vein, which sits in the footwall of the DSS deposit.
The company may look at utilising the existing Ban Phuc plant as a stepping stone to fund a larger operation as drilling continues to outline a pleasing mix of high-grade sulphide veins and DSS targets across the company’s extensive tenure.
Blackstone’s Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGE project is located 160km east of Hanoi in northern Vietnam. The project occupies a strategic holding over one of Asia’s richest nickel terranes and extends over more than 15km of strike in the Ta Khoa district. Exploration shows the terrane to host more than 25 separate nickel prospects including the high-grade discoveries at Ban Chang, King Cobra and Viper.
The company’s 2020 scoping study envisions a large-scale mining operation at Ta Khoa, with an initial 8.5-year mine life producing around 12,700 tonnes of nickel per annum. Scoping also delivered a robust set of figures, estimating a pre-tax, net present value for the project in excess of $1 billion, with estimated cash flows over the life of mine in the order of $1.7 billion.
With Blackstone continuing to kick goals on the drilling front and the downstream processing model in Vietnam now taking shape, the next piece of its operational puzzle looks set to be presented in the weeks ahead as the company tables its highly anticipated PFS on its mining operation – watch this space.
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