King Cobra nickel find has starter pit potential for Blackstone
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Special Report: Blackstone’s King Cobra discovery could be a potential starter pit for the Ta Khoa project.
Drilling has highlighted the importance of the recently discovered King Cobra zone to the future development of Blackstone Minerals’ (ASX:BSX) Ta Khoa nickel project in Vietnam.
The latest result of 60m at 1.3 per cent nickel from a depth of 32m including 13.9m at 2.25 per cent nickel from 49m takes the strike length of King Cobra to over 200m and it’s still open to the northwest and southeast as well as down dip to the northeast.
The promising result also led to the reinterpretation of a previous drill result of 45m at 1.2 per cent nickel from 56m as an earlier intersection of King Cobra mineralisation.
Ta Khoa is about 160km west of Hanoi in Vietnam and includes the Ban Phuc nickel mine featuring a 450,000-tonne-per-annum concentrator that was built to Australian standards and is expected to require little work to bring online.
Ban Phuc was operated as a mechanised underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016 and generated $US213m ($310.9m) in revenue during this period of falling nickel prices.
King Cobra is a new, high-grade zone of nickel sulphide-bearing semi-massive sulphide veins within the Ban Phuc intrusive and may provide a signpost to the high-grade “feeder zone” mineralisation.
“The King Cobra discovery is shaping up to be a high-grade, near-surface, large-scale disseminated nickel-PGE zone that has potential to deliver a highly economic starter pit at Ta Khoa,” managing director Scott Williamson said.
Blackstone is carrying out an aggressive drilling program at Ban Phuc with four rigs testing the disseminated mineralisation.
Two of the four rigs are focused on priority step-out drilling, testing for potentially significant expansions to the known Ban Phuc DSS orebody and the down dip feeder zone target at King Cobra.
Nickel sulphides are highly sought after as they are cheaper and easier to turn into battery grade nickel sulphate and fetch a higher price than nickel laterites.
In December, the company signed an MoU with South Korea-based Ecopro BM to investigate the development of a downstream processing facility at the project.
The company is well advanced with an initial scoping study evaluating mining and processing options, including potential in-country downstream processing to deliver high value nickel sulphate into Asia’s rapidly expanding electric vehicle (EV) industry.