Advanced explorer Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has announced a 73% boost to the global mineral resource at its Ta Khoa project in northern Vietnam to 485,000 tonnes of contained nickel.
The new estimate comprises the Ban Phuc and Ban Khoa disseminated sulphide (DSS) and the Ban Chang and King Snake massive sulphide vein (MSV) deposits and equates to a total combined mineral resource of 130Mt at 0.37% nickel for 485,000t (0.44% nickel equivalent for 571,000t nickel equivalent).
The new resource at Ban Phuc sits at 123Mt grading 0.37% for 452,000t of nickel (or 0.43% nickel equivalent for 523,000t nickel equivalent).
Of this, 102Mt at 0.38% nickel (0.44% nickel equivalent) is in the indicated category while 21Mt at 0.33% nickel (0.37% nickel equivalent) is inferred.
Ban Phuc is expected to provide base load supply to an 8Mt per annum concentrator being examined in an upstream pre-feasibility study to be completed in the new year.
Inferred resources have also been estimated for Ban Chang (0.70Mt at 1.2% nickel, or 2% nickel equivalent); King Snake (0.43Mt at 1.3% nickel, or 2.4% nickel equivalent); and Ban Khoa (6.2 Mt at 0.31% nickel, or 0.39% nickel equivalent) MSV deposits.
Managing director Scott Williamson said the upgrades were the culmination of an aggressive drilling program over the past 12 months.
“[We believe it] is an early indication of the potential of the Ta Khoa nickel sulphide district, and we are continuing with further aggressive testing,” he said.
“Ban Chang and King Snake are the first of many high-grade massive sulphide opportunities and we will be working diligently to increase surety of nickel supply for our downstream refinery in Vietnam, with exploration and resource delineation at Ta Khoa being a core part of our strategy.”
Blackstone has conducted a number of exploration and development programs since acquiring the Ta Khoa project in late 2019.
These include extensive geochemical, geophysical, drilling, mapping, analytical testing, resource evaluation, petrographic and mineralogical analysis at the main targets and a series of greenfield prospects.
Mr Williamson said Ta Khoa is emerging as a nickel sulphide district “of enviable scale” with several exploration targets yet to be tested.