Blackstone Minerals has continued to encounter massive nickel sulphide mineralisation at its Ban Chang prospect at the Ta Khoa project in northern Vietnam about 160km west of the country’s capital city of Hanoi as it heads towards a maiden resource estimate for the key deposit. The company says recent infill diamond drilling at Ban Chang intersected 5.35m of massive sulphide nickel in one hole within a broader 11.4m interval.
ASX-listed Vietnam nickel player Blackstone Minerals has continued to encounter massive nickel sulphide mineralisation at its Ban Chang prospect at the Ta Khoa project about 160 kilometres west of the country’s capital city of Hanoi as it prepares to release a maiden resource estimate for the key deposit. The Perth-based company says its recent infill diamond drilling program at Ban Chang intersected 5.35 metres of massive sulphide nickel in one hole within a broader 11.4m sulphide interval.
Assay results are still pending on some of the latest drilling action at Ban Chang that consisted of 27 diamond core holes for an aggregate coverage of 2,644m.
Blackstone says Ban Chang is the most advanced of the Ta Khoa project’s massive nickel sulphide vein targets.
Encouraging drill hits to date from the Ban Chang infill program include 3.6m at average grades of 1.15 per cent nickel and 1.1 per cent copper from 38.3m, 3.8m at 1.13 per cent nickel and 0.59 per cent copper from 92.5m and 1.83m at 1.57 per cent nickel and 0.32 per cent copper from 82.4m.
Other notable intercepts are 1.52m going at 1.95 per cent nickel and 0.42 per cent copper from 51m and 6.1m at 1.07 per cent nickel and 0.63 per cent copper from 43.9m.
The $156 million market-capped company has its sights set on unveiling a maiden mineral resource estimate for the Ban Chang east and west deposits in the December quarter of this year.
Blackstone anticipates plugging those resource numbers into its upcoming pre-feasibility study that is running the ruler over the proposed “upstream business unit” at Ta Khoa that potentially involves the mining and processing of both the disseminated and massive nickel sulphide deposits.
Ban Chang is being sized up as a potential ore source for the company’s existing concentrator and or as a feedstock that complements processing of disseminated nickel sulphide ore for a proposed new larger concentrator.
Blackstone Minerals Managing Director Scott Williamson said: “We look forward to presenting a maiden resource at Ban Chang and incorporating the successful outcomes of infill drilling into a mine plan as part of our upstream business unit pre-feasibility study. Drilling at Ban Chang is tightly spaced and has consistently intersected massive sulphide mineralisation, providing a high level of confidence as we progress through the next phases of mine development.”
Blackstone’s scoping study on Ta Khoa from October last year assumed a base-case production scenario factoring in only the cornerstone Ban Phuc disseminated nickel sulphide deposit that hosts an indicated resource of 44.3 million tonnes grading an average 0.52 per cent nickel for 229,000 tonnes of contained nickel.
The base-case financial metrics considered in the study show free cash flows before tax for the mining operation averaging about US$179 million a year across an initial life of mine of eight and a half years.
In the wake of those stonking economics, the study places a pre-tax net present value of US$665 million on the project and indicates an internal rate of return of 45 per cent.
According to the scoping study, pre-production capital costs of the Ta Khoa mining and processing operation and the capital payback period will be in the order of US$313.8 million and two and a half years, respectively.
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