Special Report: High-impact drilling for nickel-copper-platinum group elements has kicked off at Blackstone Minerals’ Ban Khoa prospect, close to the company’s flagship Ban Phuc deposit.

Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX) is testing new drill targets in the Ban Khoa ultramafic intrusion it identified using modern geophysics, including an electromagnetic survey.

“The geology at Ban Khoa is relatively well understood given the historic drillings and we have refined our targets using modern geophysics,” Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said.

Ban Khoa is 1.5 km north of Blackstone Minerals’ Ban Phuc deposit in north Vietnam, and  analogous to that deposit’s disseminated sulphide (DSS) ore body which includes the King Cobra discovery.

“Based on geological similarities and historical results, we believe Ban Khoa has the potential to deliver similar results to Ban Phuc,” said Williamson.

Previous drilling at Ban Khoa did not target electromagnetic plates, and the company’s geophysics crew has used EM techniques to refine potential drill targets at the deposit.

Blackstone Minerals Ban Khoa
Ban Khoa lies adjacent to Blackstone Minerals’ flagship Ban Phuc deposit in Vietnam: Image: company supplied

Ban Khoa has a combination of sulphide targets

Historic drill holes from Ban Khoa returned hits including 15m at 1.03 nickel from 174.5m.

The Ban Khoa deposit has a combination of high priority massive sulphide vein (MSV) prospects with a broader DSS target associated with an ultramafic intrusion.

The ore body at Ban Khoa is interpreted to be 300m wide and drilling has penetrated a 90-150m thick, synclinally-folded and nickeliferous dunite sill, containing sub-parallel layers of nickel-enriched ultramafic.

“Exploration success here [at Ban Khoa] could add meaningful inventory, extend mine life and improve the economics demonstrated in our recently completed scoping study,” said Williamson.

The company has added a seventh drill rig to chase additional nickel sulphide targets in the Ta Khoa nickel sulphide district identified by its geophysics crew.

Blackstone Minerals Ban Khoa
Cross-section of Ban Phuc and Ban Khoa mineral deposits and recent drilling results: Image: company supplied

Ta Khoa project has potential to increase production

“We see potential to increase annual nickel production from the Ta Khoa nickel-cobalt-pge project through targeting high-grade massive sulphide vein to complement the base load nickel sulphide feed from the Ban Phuc DSS and King Cobra discovery zone,” said Williamson.

The Ta Khoa project includes an existing nickel mine that has been in care and maintenance, and existing infrastructure includes a 450,000 tonnes per year processing plant.

Drilling is also continuing at Blackstone Minerals’ King Cobra discovery zone, Ban Chang and Ta Cuong prospects.

The Ban Phuc deposit has a recently announced maiden indicated mineral resource of 44.3 million tonnes at 0.52 per cent nickel for 229,000 tonnes of nickel.

A scoping study for the Ban Phuc ore body has highlighted an economically robust nickel sulphide project to produce downstream nickel-cobalt-manganese products.

NCM products are sought after as a cathode for the lithium-ion battery industry.

The scoping study estimated the project could support annual production of ~12,700 tonnes per year over an 8-year time span and generate ~$US665m of net present value, pre-tax.

Blackstone Minerals Ban Khoa
Blackstone Minerals’ nickel-cobalt-PGE projects are located in north Vietnam. Image: company supplied


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.