Special Report: Blackstone Minerals has a second rig on site in Vietnam, and is set to test deep nickel targets.

Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX) told its shareholders today that a second rig had arrived on site to follow up on results from an induced polarisation (IP) survey taken at the project earlier this month.

The kicker is that the second rig is capable of drilling deeper than the first rig on site, giving Blackstone a capability it hasn’t had at the site before.

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While the first rig will continue to test shallower disseminated sulphide targets (DSS), the second rig will be able to target massive sulphide veins (MSV).

That’s a boon for the company, as the previous IP survey had found a “strong correlation” between the presence of DSS targets and possible MSV targets.

Blacktsone was the first company in the history of the project to undertake an IP survey, meaning that it’s looking at targets nobody has looked at before.

It should be in an excellent position to bring any finds to market in a relatively short time frame as well, given its first set of targets is within a 5km radius of an existing processing facility.

That processing facility was built by the previous operator of the Ban Phuc mine and is a 450,000-tonne-per-annum concentrator.

The facility has been mothballed (but only since 2016), but it should take Blackstone relatively little work to get it up and running again — potentially giving the company a low-cost path to early production.

However, it’s also previously told shareholders that it’s looking at developing downstream nickel and cobalt processing facilities in Vietnam.

But in the shorter-term, the new drilling should provide Blackstone shareholders with plenty of news flow to digest as the company moves to drill.

Blackstone’s drilling to date has been promising, including hits of:

  • 22m from 138m at 0.8 per cent nickel
  • 8m from 106.6m at 1 per cent nickel and;
  • 5m from 56.5m at 1.2 per cent nickel

That included a peak assay of 3.4 per cent.

The company has at least 25 targets to follow up on, but this figure may go higher as a result of the IP survey and subsequent drilling.

Creating a regional nickel solution

While nickel is mostly used in stainless steel, Blackstone is betting on its increasing use in electric vehicle batteries.

A new Chinese regulation surrounding electric vehicle batteries could be of huge benefit to nickel producers and Blackstone.

It dictated that batteries should have a longer range, and that means that batteries will need to be more powerful — which means more nickel.

Separately, principal consultant at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Vivas Kumar said car manufacturers in Asia were getting more involved in the metals procurement process — because they’re concerned about shortages.

“Two or three years ago, carmakers generally left the responsibility to source battery raw materials to their cell suppliers,” Kumar told Stockhead previously.

“Now, because of impending shortages and a continuous push towards lowering $/kWh cost of battery cells, automakers are becoming more educated about battery metals procurement.

“As a result, we have seen that automakers are now staffing up their own battery metals procurement teams and are signing direct contracts with mining and chemical supply chain players.”

With a project in the right place at the right time, Blackstone may be in an ideal spot to benefit.

>> Now watch: 90 seconds with Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson



This story was developed in collaboration with Blackstone Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.