Special Report: Blackstone is ramping up its exploration blitz in Vietnam with additional personnel and drill rigs in a bid to find out just how big this nickel project really is.

Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX) has added a second geophysics crew and three additional drill rigs to double its exploration capacity at the Ta Khoa nickel-copper-platinum group elements (PGE) project in Vietnam.

The company has already proven that its geophysics programs have been highly effective in pinpointing nickel sulphide targets.

The addition of a second geophysics crew will fast track exploration by identifying additional targets for follow-up drilling, Blackstone says.

Blackstone also now has six diamond drill rigs operating after it bought a fourth rig and contracted two other rigs to add to its exploration attack.

Owning and operating four diamond drill rigs substantially increases the amount of drilling the company can undertake relative to other companies for the same cost.

Blackstone estimates it saves around 60 per cent in per-metre drilling costs relative to Australian industry averages by having its own fleet of rigs.

The news sent Blackstone shares up 8.5 per cent on Thursday to 38.5c.


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“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,” managing director Scott Williamson said.

“We have expanded our exploration capacity by adding an additional geophysics crew and a further three drill rigs. The additions will ensure we can progress the project as rapidly as possible in a cost-effective manner.”

Three rigs are drilling at Ban Chang, testing massive sulphide vein (MSV) targets and three are testing down dip extensions of the King Cobra Discovery Zone (KCZ) at Ban Phuc.

The two contractor rigs at KCZ can drill deeper targets down to 500m depth.

Blackstone Ta Khoa
Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGE regional prospects. Pic: Supplied


Bulk tonnage opportunity


Earlier this week, Blackstone revealed it had hit its broadest, high-grade nickel intercept so far at the bigger-than-expected Ban Chang deposit in Vietnam.

All four maiden holes drilled have hit high-grade massive sulphide nickel over a 1.2km strike.

Blackstone’s goal is to deliver a maiden resource in the current third quarter that will initially focus on the disseminated sulphides (DSS) at the Ban Phuc prospect.

The company is investigating the potential to restart the 450,000-tonne-per-annum concentrator at Ban Phuc.

Blackstone has also started a scoping study on a downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa which is due for release this quarter.

This scoping study will provide crucial details for joint venture partners to formalise the next stage of investment.

Additionally, Blackstone has kicked off all-important metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit to develop a processing ‘flow sheet’ for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry.

The company will investigate the potential to develop downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product for Asia’s growing lithium-ion battery industry.

“We are looking forward to a steady stream of drilling results during Q3 and Q4 2020 and will keep our shareholders up to date as results become available,” Williamson said.



This article was developed in collaboration with Blackstone Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.