A fast-tracked exploration program at the Ta Khoa nickel-platinum group elements (PGE) project in Vietnam is paying off for Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) with the discovery of a new zone of nickel mineralisation.
Located east of the Ban Chang prospect, the nickel sulphide target now called the Viper discovery zone was initially generated by the company’s in-house geophysics crew and recently followed up by the geology team to confirm the potential of the target to host nickel-copper sulphide mineralisation.
A series of new shallow electromagnetic anomalies about 200m northeast of Ban Chang East were followed up with trenches; one trench located directly above a new anomaly at Viper discovered a nickel-copper gossan (iron cap formed by the oxidation of sulphides) with a float sample assaying 0.8% nickel and 0.5% copper, Blackstone reported.
Viper is a blind discovery with no surface exposures of nickel sulphide or ultramafic, which Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said bodes well for further blind discoveries of nickel sulphide mineralisation throughout the Ta Khoa nickel-PGE district.
“In addition to blind discovery potential, we have 25 massive sulphide targets, which are all associated with outcropping mineralisation at surface, and with our in-house geophysics team, we can generate additional blind discoveries that were not known to previous operators of the project,” he said.
Accelerated exploration program
The Viper discovery comes soon after Blackstone moved to an aggressive drill-out phase to delineate a maiden resource at Ban Chang to supplement ongoing studies focused on producing nickel sulphate for the lithium-ion battery industry.
Three rigs are currently drilling at Ban Chang, testing massive sulphide vein targets, and three other rigs are testing down-dip extensions of the King Cobra discovery zone at Ban Phuc.
Blackstone said its maiden resource estimate and a scoping study on the Ta Khoa downstream processing facility are on track for release this quarter.
The scoping study will provide details for joint venture partners to formalise the next stage of investment.