Blackstone moves to ramp up work at promising Vietnam nickel project
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Special Report: Hard on the heels of impressive results from its nickel project in Vietnam, Blackstone Minerals is moving to raise as much as $5m to accelerate drilling at the project.
Blackstone (ASX:BSX) wants to move quickly to gain a better understanding of the full extent of the resource at hand.
The emerging nickel producer is raising $4.5m via a placement at 15c a share. It is also offering existing shareholders the opportunity to participate via a share purchase plan at the same price, which is aimed at raising a further $500,000.
Shares in the explorer have risen three-fold since Blackstone disclosed it had taken up an option on the Vietnam project earlier in the year.
In May, Blackstone took a 12-month option to acquire a 90 per cent interest in the Ta Khoa project, about 160km west of Hanoi. The project includes the Ban Phuc nickel mine, which is currently on care and maintenance.
Initial promising drilling results prompted Blackstone to mobilise a second rig at the site that is capable of drilling to greater depths as it seeks to get a better understanding of the prospects of the project.
Maiden drilling of the Ban Phuc project delivered grades of up to 3.4 per cent nickel.
Additionally, earlier this month, assays disclosed significant levels of platinum, palladium and gold at the project following Blackstone’s initial exploration work at the project, which managing director Scott Williamson has described as a “game-changer” for the project.
Grades of as high of 1.36 grams a tonne of the palladium group elements (PGE) were disclosed following its recent drilling work.
These previously unrecognised palladium group elements present the opportunity for by-product credits which could enhance significantly the economics of the Ta Khoa project.
The project includes significant fixed assets. The nickel mine, for example, includes processing equipment such as a 450,000-tonne-a-year concentrator which was built to Australian standards. The equipment would require little work to be brought back online.
The mine was idled in 2016 following three years of operation, during which it produced close to 1 million tonnes of ore.
The recent surge in the price of nickel adds to the promise of this portion of the project, quite apart from the exciting drilling results to hand from Blackstone’s recent exploration activity.