Fresh nickel and PGE hits as Blackstone races toward maiden resource in Vietnam
Link copied to
Special Report: Blackstone Minerals has delivered more broad nickel sulphide intersections with significant platinum group elements (PGE) at its Ta Khoa project in northern Vietnam.
The latest results from the ongoing drilling program include top hits of 33.3m at 0.8 per cent nickel from 136.9m and 29.4m at 1 per cent nickel from 140.6m.
PGE grades of up to 1.28 grams per tonne were also assayed.
Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX) is now mobilising additional drill rigs and will carry out both infill drilling at the known Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide zone (DSS) as well as step out drilling to test newly identified targets.
The company will also carry out a geophysical program targeting further DSS and massive sulphide veins.
Blackstone is fully funded to deliver a maiden resource for the Ban Phuc DSS, which is expected in the coming months, as well as a scoping study incorporating downstream processing.
It will also start metallurgical testing on Ban Phuc ore with the goal of developing a flow sheet for a product suitable for use in the lithium-ion battery industry.
“Drilling at Ta Khoa continues to deliver significant intersections of disseminated nickel sulphide and, with the recently identified potential for substantial platinum group element credits, the Ban Phuc DSS is shaping up to be a globally significant nickel sulphide system,” managing director Scott Williamson said.
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 after it was idled in 2016 following three years of operation. The mine includes a 450,000-tonne-a-year concentrator that was built to Australian standards and will require little work to bring back online.
Maiden drilling at Ban Phuc delivered grades of up to 3.4 per cent nickel, while other assays since then have returned significant levels of platinum, palladium and gold, which present an opportunity for by-product credits that could enhance significantly the economics of the Ta Khoa project.
The PGE discovery is a bonus for Blackstone, which was the first company to assay the Ban Phuc DSS for PGEs. Previous owners had focused on the Ban Phuc massive sulphide veins that have relatively low PGE grades.
The company plans to prioritise DSS targets to further investigate the PGE opportunity and unlock the nickel sulphide system at Ta Khoa.